Penguins beat Thrashers, Crosby's scoring streak at 25
December 29, 2010 5:00 AM
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby celebrates his second goal with teammate Chris Kunitz during Tuesday's game against the Thrashers in the first period at Consol Energy.
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins' system is designed to produce hard-hat goals, but they have players capable of flashing skill to score.
When they can blend those two facets, it results in a lot of offense. That's what happened Tuesday night in a 6-3 win against Atlanta at Consol Energy Center.
"The habits are to get to the net and create havoc there, but, if you have the opportunity to make plays, you make them, too. We did that tonight," said center Sidney Crosby, who had two goals and two assists to run his points streak to 25 consecutive games.
Crosby split two Thrashers defensemen and scored -- certainly something that fits into the aesthetically pleasing category -- to pull the Penguins into a 2-2 tie at 18:34 of the first period, and Craig Adams scored the team's seventh shorthanded goal at 11:38 of the second period to give the Penguins their first lead, and one they never relinquished.
Game: Penguins at New York Islanders, 7:08 p.m. today, Nassau Coliseum.
Probable goaltenders:Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Dwayne Roloson for Islanders.
Penguins: Have won two games on Long Island in four of past five seasons. ... LW Matt Cooke has just two points, both goals, in 10 games inside Atlantic Division. ... Have scored three short-handed goals on road and allowed one.
Islanders: Are one of four NHL teams with losing record at home (6-7-3). ... C John Tavares has six-game scoring streak. ... Have scored first in eight of their nine victories.
Of note: Islanders LW Matt Moulson has scored eight of his 11 goals at home.
Adams was alone in the slot and deposited a nice one-timer from Matt Cooke past Atlanta goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, but it was Cooke's blue-collar play that set up the turning point.
After the penalty-killers pressured Atlanta into its own end, Cooke wrestled the puck away from defenseman Dustin Byfuglien along the end boards and got a quick pass out to Adams.
"I don't think he knew what he was doing," Adams cracked about Cooke, who later added a deflection goal.
It was easy for the Penguins to be in a joking mood after the win.
For the second game in a row, the Penguins got better as the night wore on.
Tuesday, though, they had a better starting point than they did Sunday, when a sloppy first period evolved into a 3-1 loss at Ottawa.
On the first shift of the game Tuesday, Crosby carried the puck into the Thrashers' end with defenseman Tobias Enstrom in his way. Crosby spun off of him, did a 360-degree turn and got off a shot that Pavelec blocked with his stick.
Atlanta, however, went down the ice to take a 1-0 lead 37 seconds into regulation when Evander Kane converted a pass through the slot from Bryan Little.
Crosby was just getting warmed up, though.
During a Penguins power play, defenseman Kris Letang intercepted a clearing attempt by penalty-killer Rich Peverley at center point. Letang fed Crosby near the bottom of the right circle, and Crosby put the puck behind Pavelec on the short side to make it 1-1 at 10:34 of the first period.
"That was a great play by Kris to keep that in," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We'll take [Crosby] from that range every time."
That put Crosby into a tie for the 11th-longest points streak in NHL history. It also gave him a five-game goal streak.
Atlanta regained a one-goal lead, 2-1, with a power-play score at 15:18 of the first period when Byfuglien blasted the puck off the left post and past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the top of the slot.
Crosby pulled the Penguins into a tie again, 2-2, at 18:34 when he took a breakout pass from Alex Goligoski, deftly split Brent Sopel and Ron Hainsey as he moved down the slot and put a forehand past Pavelec's stick.
"[Goligoski] just made a great heads-up play," Crosby said. "There was some space in between them. I had a little bit of speed coming through there."
Adams' goal made it 3-2.
The Penguins struck quickly in the third period as Crosby set up Chris Kunitz 9 seconds in to make it 4-2.
When Thrashers defenseman Johnny Oduya stumbled at the blue line on the way out of his zone, Crosby poked the puck ahead the right corner. Crosby caught up with the puck and threw it toward the net. Kunitz banged it in from the right corner.
Rookie Mark Letestu's singlehanded effort led to a 5-2 lead for the Penguins. In the left circle, he outmuscled Atlanta's Alexander Burmistrov for the puck, swooped in on Pavelec and slid the puck past the goalie's glove at 13:00 of the third period.
Crosby picked up his fourth point when Cooke tipped in Crosby's shot from just inside the blue line at the top of the slot to make it 6-2 at 16:16 of the third.
Atlanta's Eric Boulton scored on a rebound at 16:51 of the third to make it 6-3, but the Penguins had pulled too far ahead with their mix of pretty and pedestrian plays.
"You want to make the pretty play, but we also had to realize in the first period the pretty play wasn't there yet, and we had stay a little bit simple," Cooke said.