Penguins 5, Panthers 2
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Sidney Crosby
matched the second-longest NHL scoring streak in 18 years at 22 games with his first-period goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Crosby scored for the 28th time this season and 22nd time during the streak 7:44 into the game, giving the Penguins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he fired a slap shot while skating down the left wing that beat Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun to the far side.
had his first career goal, and Mark Letestu
, Matt Cooke
and Pascal Dupuis
also scored for Pittsburgh, which has won 14 of its past 16, recovering from a two-game losing streak last week with consecutive convincing victories.
Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun sits on the bench after being pulled in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010. The Penguins won 5-2.
Stephen Weiss and Bryan McCabe scored for Florida, which had won five of its previous seven.
Crosby’s streak matched Dany Heatley's in 2005 as the longest since the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season. Mats Sundin of the Quebec Nordiques had points in 30 consecutive games during the 1992-93 season.
The Penguins came out strong early Wednesday, successfully resisting the urge to look ahead to a showdown at the rival Washington Capitals on Thursday in a preview of the Winter Classic to be played at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on Jan 1.
Pittsburgh took a 3-1 lead by taking 14 shots over the game’s first 11 minutes, chasing goalie Tomas Vokoun.
Letestu scored 90 seconds into the game during a rush with linemates Tyler Kennedy
and Chris Conner
, taking a pass from Kennedy while skating in from the right slot and out-waiting Vokoun before tucking the puck in behind him for his seventh.
Weiss tied it 1:13 later on a soft wrist shot from the left circle that Pittsburgh backup goalie Brent Johnson
let in the far side between his glove hand and body.
That was the Panthers’ first shot of the game. Johnson would stop the remaining 20 he faced before not returning following the second intermission due to a lower-body injury.
Crosby and Cooke scored in a 3:13 span 5 minutes after Weiss’s goal. Cooke picked up a loose puck in the slot off a rebound of a Max Talbot shot for his seventh of the season. Evgeni Malkin
got the second assist on the play, giving him at least a point in four consecutive games since missing four with a knee injury.
Lovejoy’s first goal in 31 career games was an unassisted tally 6:19 into the second.
He did not play the final 3:46 after a slap shot by McCabe struck him just below the left eye 10 seconds before McCabe’s similar-looking shot from the left point produced a goal, his fifth, that made it 4-2 before Dupuis’ empty-netter.
Notes: Pittsburgh is 7-1 against Southeast Division teams. … Florida is 3-13 when its opponent scores first. … The Panthers were unsuccessful on three power-play chances. They entered the game with the league’s worst power play; Penguins had the top-ranked penalty kill. … Weiss has a four-game point streak.
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