I would love to be telling you right now that Sidney Crosby is back to his old self and dominated the game. I would love to be telling you that Evgeni Malkin dominated the game and took a commanding lead in the point scoring race. I would hate to be one of those 300 reporters that wedged themselves into the visitors locker room at Madison Square Garden just to get a sound bite so they could get an article in by deadline about how great Crosby’s assist was this evening.
As great as the return of Sidney Crosby is, there is something way better going on with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The entire team is healthy, and they’re playing the best hockey they’ve played in years, and the entire team is contributing.
The Penguins win tonight, their tenth in a row, puts them in a tie for the longest winning streak of the league this season at ten games. The last two games were back to back 5-2 beatings of two #1 teams in the Eastern Conference. Also in the ten game streak they beat the #1 Pacific team and #1 Southeast team.
Did anyone notice that Kristopher Letang was back in the lineup tonight also? While coach Bylsma stuck to his guns making sure that Crosby only saw 16 minutes on the nose of ice time, the same was not true in the return of star defenseman Kris Letang. Three minutes more ice time than any other Penguins player, Letang had a night to remember also getting two assist and was on for every Penguins goal for and not one against.
As all eyes were focused on Malkin and Crosby, Marc-André Fleury had another incredible game, highlight save after jaw dropping save Fleury had his glove hand flying. Fleury is playing better hockey than he has ever played. Paul Martin also returned to the lineup tonight and had an assist and was a plus three in a little bit more limited ice time role than he normally gets.
Matt Cooke had two goals and was clearly enjoying an expanded role spending time as a winger on Crosby and on Jordan Staal‘s line. Speaking of Staal, he had an assist tonight and now has a nine game scoring streak going on. Even Pascal Dupuis closed out a second game in a row with his 19th goal.
Tonight the Penguins were out to prove they are more than just Malkin & Crosby and they succeeded in a big way.
Notes: Though Crosby didn’t score 4 points and look like the Crosby of old like he did in his last return earlier in the season. He did play a way smarter game and didn’t try to prove that he can take hits. Malkin’s goal put him back up alone on top in the scoring race.