Crosby's hat trick leads Penguins past Flames
Penguins forward Sidney Crosby celebrates his first goal in the second period of Friday's game against the Flames at Consol Energy Center.
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Mario Lemieux made NHL history Dec. 31, 1988 when he scored every kind of goal in a single game.
A lot of people believe that feat won't ever be matched, which is understandable.
Except that Sidney Crosby nearly found a way to top it in the Penguins' 4-1 victory Saturday against Calgary at Consol Energy Center.
Lemieux, you see, needed five goals to get one of each type -- even-strength, power play, short-handed, empty net and penalty shot -- to fill his quota. Crosby had a chance to do it with four.
Had he beaten Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff on a penalty shot at 4:14 of the opening period, Crosby would have finished with one of each kind, because the empty-netter he got to complete his sixth career hat trick with 36.4 seconds left in regulation also was short-handed.
Whether the league would have formally recognized Crosby's feat isn't known -- the NHL office did not immediately respond to a question about that -- but some people could have seen it as superior to Lemieux's rampage against New Jersey more than two decades ago.
"Oh, geez, don't tell me that," Crosby said, laughing. "That's one thing I thought would never be beaten. To know I was that close, that hurts.
"But we played well and found a way to get more, so it's OK."
Mostly, it was Crosby who found a way to get more, including his 200th goal in the NHL and his first winning goal of 2010-11.
His goals not only extended his scoring streak to 12 games, longest in the league this season, but gave him at least temporary possession of first place in the NHL scoring race. He has 40 points; Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay had 38 going into the Lightning's game Saturday night against Florida.
Kiprusoff, who made a superb glove save on Crosby's penalty shot, praised the way Crosby battled his way onto the score sheet.
"He paid the price," Kiprusoff said. "He was around the net. He didn't do any fancy goals."
Simply getting one puck past Kiprusoff was an epic accomplishment in this game. He stopped 39 of the 42 shots the Penguins sent at him, including all 24 in the first period.
"He gave us a chance to win a game we really had no business being in," Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano said.
Although Brent Johnson of the Penguins wasn't tested as often or severely as Kiprusoff, his first start since Nov. 10 was an unqualified success. Johnson made 30 saves and was closing in on his second shutout of the season when Rene Bourque of the Flames beat him from in front of the net at 13:03 of the third to slice the Penguins' lead to 3-1.
Not that Johnson was particularly distraught over losing the shutout.
"I'll take 10 2-1 [victories] before I'll take a 5-1 loss and three shutouts," he said.
For the first 26-plus minutes, it looked as if Johnson might have to pitch a shutout just to get the Penguins through regulation. Kiprusoff was playing like a guy who could stop a gnat in a windstorm. Blindfolded.
"I did think that it might take another 24 shots in the second period to get [a goal]," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
What it actually took was a changeup by Kris Letang, who didn't get all of a slap shot from the right side. Kiprusoff, his timing disrupted, batted the puck out of the air and into the right circle, where Arron Asham pounced on it at 6:26 of the second and hammered it past Kiprusoff.
Letang acknowledged the obvious, that he didn't mis-hit the puck intentionally -- "Trust me, I want to score every goal I can," he said -- but his slower-than-expected shot made Asham's goal possible.
Asham scored about 3 1/2 minutes after Johnson had made two quality stops on Jarome Iginla and Mikael Backlund, and about six before Crosby converted a Chris Kunitz set-up at 12:20 for the only one of his 18 goals to go down as a winner.
Crosby got his 200th in the league on a power-play deflection at 9:12 of the third and, after Bourque had spoiled Johnson's shutout bid, closed out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:23.
"Crosby had a great game," Iginla said. "He showed why he's the best in the game right now."
He just didn't quite find a way to outdo his team's co-owner.
Not yet, anyway.
First Published November 28, 2010 12:00 am