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Penguins survive late Blackhawks surge for win

Dec 20, 2011, 10:58 PM EDT

happygenoap AP

Going into the third period, it looked like things were actually going to be easy for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They entered the final frame with a 3-0 lead, but they needed every goal as the Chicago Blackhawks came scorching back into an entertaining contest. The Penguins managed to hang on 3-2 thanks to great work by Marc-Andre Fleury and a few bounces.

Evgeni Malkin was the biggest star of the game, though, as he’s been on fire since Sidney Crosby left Pittsburgh’s lineup again. Malkin has generated a ridiculous 15 points in a six-game scoring streak, including three gorgeous assists tonight. It’s looking like the talented Russian is over the knee issues that plagued him last season. In fact, that great game now has Malkin tied with Phil Kessel, Henrik Sedin and Claude Giroux for the NHL points lead with 39.

The Blackhawks showed that few leads are safe against them, although Joel Quenneville likely hopes to see a more “even” effort from the team. Patrick Sharp‘s nine-game points streak came to an end, as well.

Overall, it was an entertaining match between two teams who very well could meet in far more important games in June 2012.

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  1. danphipps01 - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Gotta wonder if the Pens would really miss Crosby that much if he were out long-term. Sounds crazy. Probably is. But Geno tends to slow way the hell down when Crosby’s there to occupy the spotlight and then fucking *explode* when he’s the go-to man. And they’ve really not missed his services much this season, considering the above-mentioned share in the points lead. If worst truly came to worst, and obviously I hope it doesn’t… they’d do quite well without him. Turns out they’ve got a powerful team with or without. Wonder what they’d do if he turned out to injure repeatedly before his contract expires.

    • abrienza428 - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:16 AM

      You’re right about Malkin stepping it up when Crosby is out. My only counter is back in 09 when the Pens won the Cup, they needed both of them clicking to win it. Teams (except Carolina) were able to limit one of their lines, but the other’s would take over. Washington focused on Malkin and Crosby torched them. Detroit focused on Crosby, and Malkin had a big series. They’ll ultimately probably need both in the playoffs to win it I think.

  2. southyank7 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    so far the PowerPlay seems to be clicking along better w/o crosby
    i’m more worried about Letang right now-
    my gut is crosby comes back & IF he gets another shot – pens will shut him down AGAIN for rest of season so honestly i’m more worried about Letang & getting a better backup goalie cause Johnson has SUCKED

    • danphipps01 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:47 AM

      Well, yeah. He was pretty much a bargain-bin acquisition. That’s definitely a hole they need to fill next season. Or sooner.

      As for Letang… he’s been just shy of a PPG player. And although he’s on for a lot of opposing goals, he’s an offensive defenseman. The risk’s always like that. He’s not your go-to shutdown man. Honestly, it seems like he’s done his thing pretty well so far. That said… well, we’ll see what he does when he’s back.

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