Thursday, October 29, 2009

Crosby’s Hat Trick leads Penguins over Canadiens

ALeqM5iNnuxGWRptlb0FGewQVvl3z2EpCw Sidney Crosby recorded his third career hat-trick Wednesday night. – AP Photo

They’re the defending champs. Wednesday night, the Montreal Canadiens learned that.

Behind Sidney Crosby’s three-goal night Penguins snapped the Canadiens four-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory.

Jaroslav Halak was seeking his fifth straight win between the pipes, looking to gain a decisive edge for a number one position over Carey Price.

He wouldn’t get it.

The Penguins opened the scoring, at 8:33 of first period, when Bill Guerin capitalized on a Montreal turnover making a slick pass to Crosby, who was sitting wide open at the side of the net.

“He can score,” said Guerin, who’s three helpers on the night brought his career point total to 820. “He usually has a pass-first mentality, but with the positions that he put himself in during the game, he can score a lot of goals.”

The Canadiens remained strong in the period, but Marc-Andre Fleury turned away all nine shots he faced.

ALeqM5jZUm9EZmt5fqh0o497ZzftHAUB3QMarc-Andre Fleury makes one of his 23 saves Wednesday night. – AP Photo

The Penguins unloaded in the second with a three-goal barrage. Just over five minutes in, Crosby scored his second of the night off a backhand that got over Halak.

Mike Rupp added to the lead, at 12:58, taking advantage of a delayed penalty against Montreal.

ALeqM5jCO5vNVcUkd32VFcq19TG2rqHS9g The dejected Canadiens wait for the hats to be swept away. – AP Photo

Less than three minutes later, Crosby picked up the hat-trick. Halak’s initial save off the Penguins Captain bounced off his skate and into the net. The goal was reviewed and it was determined that Crosby made no kicking motion.

It was Crosby’s third career hat-trick and ninth goal of the season.He only had three goals in October of 2008.

“I was in the right place at the right time," Crosby said. "I was standing all by myself a couple of times. (My line mates) did all the work, and I just tried to finish it off.

“When you get three goals in a game, that kind of changes the look of your (season) numbers early on. I'm trying to shoot the puck when I get chances and trying to not pass up good shots, but it's just been a matter of the puck going in early on.”

ALeqM5gk21wL01oPDhstHiJoabKGrToHsA Jaroslav Halak lifts his mask after allowing Sidney Crosby’s third goal Wednesday night. “If you give him a chance, he's going to score,” Halak said . - AP Photo

Halak would not start the third period and could not be blamed for the team’s performance in the first 40 minutes.

Fleury’s shutout opportunity was busted by Tomas Plekanec just over five minutes into the final 20 minutes.

Alex Goligoski and Chris Kunitz each scored on the power play to end the onslaught.

For Goligoski, it extends his point-scoring streak to six games. Crosby now has a five-game streak.

The Canadiens were outclassed by Pittsburgh in the final twenty minutes, outshot 14-5. Every player on the Canadiens lineup registered in the minus column.

“We made mistakes," said Montreal defenceman Hal Gill.” We had some turnovers and (Crosby) feeds off that. He waits for it and that's when he capitalizes.”

Before the game, Gill received his Stanley Cup ring from the team he played for the season before. He was in the penalty box for the Goligoski goal.

If there was a positive for the Canadiens, it could have been that the Penguins only capitalized on two of eight power play opportunities.

The Penguins record improved to 10-2, while the Canadiens slipped to 6-6.

Fleury made 23 saves for the Penguins and has won nine of his ten starts this season.

The Canadiens next game is Friday night, against the Blackhawks, in Chicago.

Three Stars: 1. Sidney Crosby 2. Chris Kunitz 3. Bill Guerin

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