Crosby, Penguins continue streaks, beat Maple Leafs
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby celebrates a second period goal in with teammates Paul Martin, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz during Wednesday's game against the Mapl Leafs at Consol Energy Center.
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Mark Letestu had to feel as if it had been forever since he had scored a goal.
Would have been understandable, if not entirely accurate.
Heck, it hadn't even been as long as it was since the last time Pascal Dupuis had, well, scored on a two-on-zero break. While short-handed.
Letestu figured he hadn't gotten one in "roughly a month" -- actually, it was getting perilously close to two -- before scoring twice in the Penguins' 5-2 victory against Toronto Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center.
Dupuis, meanwhile, couldn't recall the most recent time he had been part of a two-on-zero break while killing a penalty.
"I don't think I've ever had one," he said.
Letestu's goal midway through the second period was his first in 23 games, ending a dry spell that began Oct. 21. He must have enjoyed it, because he got another for his first two-goal game in the NHL. While Letestu was delighted to end one streak, his teammates were pleased to keep a few others going.
The victory was the Penguins' 11th in a row, the second-longest such streak in franchise history, raised their record to 20-8-2 and kept them atop the NHL's overall standings.
Center Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, stretched his scoring streak to 17 games -- longest in the league this season -- with a couple of goals to run his league-leading total to 26. Crosby put up 21 of those between the time Letestu had gotten his fourth of the season Oct. 18 -- they actually were tied with four each after that night's game -- and when he ended his slump.
"He's playing pretty special hockey," Letestu said.
Crosby put the Penguins in front to stay when he knocked his own rebound past Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson at 8:35 of the opening period, but it was Dupuis' short-handed goal at 11:38 of the second that put the Penguins in control.
Craig Adams was serving a boarding minor when Dupuis and Chris Kunitz got the two-on-zero break that ended with Dupuis throwing a shot by Gustavsson for his seventh of the season.
Dupuis apologized for not passing to Kunitz, but Kunitz said it wasn't necessary.
"Two-on-zero, as long as they go in, no one's too worried about it," he said.
Dupuis' goal staggered the Leafs, and, by the time they regained their equilibrium, they were down by four.
Letestu made it 3-0 at 13:13, beating Gustavsson from just below the hash marks after collecting a Tyler Kennedy centering pass that struck the skate of Maple Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin.
"It was nice to get one," Letestu said. "Quite a relief."
Crosby's droughts this season have been measured in minutes, and he struck for No. 26 at 14:46, taking a cross-ice feed from Kunitz and scoring from just inside the right dot.
That gave the Penguins three goals in three minutes, eight seconds and Toronto a seemingly insurmountable four-goal deficit.
The Maple Leafs were resilient, however, and whittled the Penguins' advantage to 4-2 before Letestu put the game out of reach in the waning minutes.
Marc-Andre Fleury lost his shutout bid at 4:36 of the third period, when Toronto's Tyler Bozak backhanded a rebound past him on a power play. That marked the fourth consecutive game in which the Penguins have allowed a man-advantage goal.
Toronto then sliced the Penguins' lead to 4-2 when Mikhail Grabovski, using Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland as a screen, whipped a wrist shot over Fleury's glove at 8:38.
"We were at least able to claw our way back in," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
Some in the crowd of 18,158 likely got a bit nervous at that point -- "It was in our minds that they'd come back in Washington a couple of nights before," Letestu said -- but Letestu threw a wrist shot over Gustavsson's glove from inside the right circle at 17:06 to effectively end the game.
That goal came on the Penguins' second -- and final -- shot of the period, when Toronto recorded 15.
"We got away from our game, starting making bad decisions with the puck, starting turning pucks over," Kunitz said.
"It's a good thing [Letestu] scored."
About time, too.
First Published December 9, 2010 12:00 am