Penguins center Sidney Crosby had not scored at home since Nov. 30, a stretch of seven games at Mellon Arena without a goal. He ended that drought yesterday when he got the final tally off a give-and-go play with linemate Evgeni Malkin in a 3-0 win against Florida.
To Crosby, it felt like a long time since he sent the home fans into a celebration over one of his goals.
"Yeah, it did," he said. "So it feels good to get one."
In the seven home games since he had two goals against Dallas in a 4-1 Penguins win, Crosby had 10 assists. He has 57 points in 41 games to rank among the NHL leaders.
Still, not scoring at home in several weeks was wearing on Crosby.
"It was," he said. "It still is.
"But I'm not going to get a lot of chances around the net. Most times I'm around the net, there's a stick on me. So I have to make sure when I get the odd chance in the slot, I take advantage of it."
The Penguins scored on one of five power plays, but they did not give the Panthers much of an opportunity to get their own power-play goal.
Adam Hall's holding penalty for grabbing Florida's Radek Dvorak at 14:29 of the first period was the Penguins' only infraction.
"It's great to stay out of the [penalty] box," Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "It's a lot easier when you only take one penalty in a game. That's a good job of guys keeping their stick down, moving their feet, not taking any lazy penalties."
There was some question coming into this season whether winger Ryan Malone would remain a long-term part of the Penguins' plans after he had his lowest point total (31) last season, his third in the NHL.
Coach Michel Therrien answered that when he recently named Malone an alternate captain for home games. Defenseman Darryl Sydor will wear an "A" on his sweater for road games. They join Crosby, the captain, and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who wears the other "A."
"It was definitely a surprise when coach told me, instant goose bumps," said Malone, who grew up in Upper St. Clair. "Coach has seen me develop the past couple years.
"It's an honor, and you definitely feel privileged. There's a lot of guys on this team who could have a letter on their jersey. It's something special for me, especially being from Pittsburgh."
Malone, who has regained the rugged aspect of his game this season, does not expect to play or act differently.
"I don't think I really have to change anything," he said. "I'm still going to stand up for my teammates."
The Penguins opened the season with winger Mark Recchi as a full-time alternate, with Gonchar filling the role as the other alternate at home and winger Gary Roberts wearing an "A" on the road. Recchi then was waived, so Gonchar and Roberts took on the role full time.
When Gonchar missed three games with a groin injury, defenseman Mark Eaton filled in. Eaton is out indefinitely because of a knee injury and was not available to fill the role again when Roberts sustained a broken leg that has him out indefinitely.
Several of the Penguins planned to attend the Steelers' game, and most of the others --including Therrien -- expected to watch it on TV. ... Until New Jersey won Friday, Penguins coach Michel Therrien was in the running to be an assistant coach for the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game. The conference assistants are coaches whose teams had the second-best points percentages after games last night. ... Although the long, punch-heavy fight between the Penguins' Jarkko Ruutu and Toronto's Darcy Tucker might have left a stronger impression, the Maple Leafs' Mark Bell will be thinking for some time about his go-round with Malone in the Penguins' 6-2 win Thursday. Bell was left with a broken orbital bone that will require surgery and force him out indefinitely. ... Neither the Penguins nor the Panthers had any healthy scratches.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721.