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CROSBY, MALKIN LEAD PENGUINS PAST MAPLE LEAFS, 4-1

Friday, 12.29.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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CROSBY, MALKIN LEAD PENGUINS PAST MAPLE LEAFS, 4-1

The Penguins used three power-play goals to upend Toronto, 4-1, Friday night at Mellon Arena.

The victory snapped a five-game losing skid for the Penguins (16-15-6)

"We needed a big win and it was a hard win, a tough win. I think we were deserving of it and it feels good to get it," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "It's nice to get results. We were playing well, but we weren't always playing 60 minutes. To get a full game in and a tough win that it was, it's rewarding and we can build off this."

Crosby tallied three assists to boost his NHL-leading points total to 58 (17+41). Meanwhile, super rookie Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist on the night. It pushed his point totals to 36 (18+18), which tops all NHL rookies.

"From the first minutes of the game, all the guys tried really hard," Malkin said through translator George Birman. "The atmosphere in the locker room was different today. Everybody was focused about the game. We tried really hard and I think we deserved this win. It was like a must-win for us."

Erik Christensen got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 35.8 seconds left in the first period. He roofed a shot past J.S. Aubin's shoulder along the near post for a power-play goal. Crosby and Michel Ouellet earned the assist.

Toronto's Mats Sundin poked in a rebound with 9:20 left in the second period to knot the score at 1-all.

Sergei Gonchar rifled a shot past Aubin 53 seconds into the third period for a 2-1 Penguins lead. Malkin and Crosby earned assists on the play. Malkin sent a pass to Gonchar at the high slot. He flipped the puck to Crosby on the far point and Crosby threw the puck back to Gonchar. He ripped it into the net.

Malkin tallied a power-play goal 6:01 later. On the near point, Gonchar wound up for a slap-shot. Instead, he rifled a shot to Malkin along the near post. He redirected the puck into the wide-open net for a 3-1 Penguins lead. Crosby assisted on the play.

Jordan Staal capped the scoring with 7:03 left. Chasing a Maple Leafs player behind the Toronto net, Staal stole the puck, wheeled around the net and slid a shot past Aubin, who tossed his stick behind the net in frustration.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 of 31 shots to earn the win in goal for the Penguins.

"Marc-Andre made some solid saves," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "We played a really solid game. I thought the Leafs put a lot of pressure on us in the second period. We didn't manage it well, but Marc-Andre made some key saves to make sure there was no damage. He was solid. We did regroup and we were really solid in the third period.

"I was happy with the special teams. The power play clicked well and the penalty killing was good. Marc-Andre, on the penalty kill, had some solid saves."

The Penguins return to action Tuesday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.

ICE CHIPS: Chris Thorburn and Ronald Petrovicky were the Penguins' healthy scratches...Darcy Tucker, Brendan Bell and Kyle Wellwood were the Maple Leafs' scratches...The announced attendance was 17,132.

 

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