Crosby's scoring streak reaches 13 games as Penguins claim seventh win in a row
The Rangers' Sean Avery skates past Marc-Andre Fleury as he chases the puck in the second period Monday in New York.
The Penguins celebrate a goal by Kris Letang as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks on in the second period Monday.
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NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby didn't do anything remarkable Monday night.
Just enough to extend his scoring streak to 13 games.
The Penguins' penalty-killers didn't do anything extraordinary, either.
Just enough to run their streak of successful kills to 32.
Fact is, the rest of the team didn't do anything particularly dazzling, either.
Just enough to defeat the New York Rangers, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden.
And, in the process, to extend the Penguins' winning streak to seven games and their record in the past 10 to 9-0-1.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty spectacular, even if not many people have noticed.
"We're just quietly creeping up there," center Max Talbot said. "Nobody is really talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins. We're just being consistent."
Consistent enough that they haven't lost a game in regulation since their ghastly third-period implosion in a 7-4 loss to Boston Nov. 10 at Consol Energy Center.
And while there have been some brilliant individual performances along the way, this victory followed more of a sweat-for-success blueprint.
"We played well, played solid for 60 minutes," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "We stuck to our system, stuck to our game plan and guys worked hard. And it paid off."
No one on either side disputed that. About the only point of contention surrounded an incident 15 minutes into the first period, when Crosby was accused of "slew-footing" New York forward Ryan Callahan. Basically, of kicking Callahan's feet out from under him.
The only penalty assessed during that sequence, which occurred while Crosby and Callahan were grappling as they skated toward the New York end, went to Callahan for interference.
Replays suggested that Crosby could have been called for tripping Callahan after hitting Callahan's skate with his. Crosby, however, did not sweep Callahan's leg with his own as they battled while skating toward the New York end, which is the kind of act that generally results in a "slew-foot" call.
New York's Brandon Dubinsky reportedly called Crosby a "dirty player" during a between-periods interview on the Rangers telecast, a charge Crosby rejected instantly and emphatically.
"How many penalty minutes do I have this year?" said Crosby, who has 15. "I'm not dirty. Please. Show me all those dirty plays. It's a battle. He falls.
"I think [Dubinsky] has done his fair share of things out there that are questionable. I guess he's talking again. I'm not surprised.
"It's a battle. He's holding me going up ice, and I'm trying to push him off. Is it that calculated? I'm trying to get to the net. I'm not worried about that kind of thing. I'm trying to get to the net and push him off. If I tripped him, I tripped him.
"But am I a dirty hockey player? Come on. I think [Dubinsky's] smarter than that."
The Penguins had a 1-0 lead at the time of the Crosby-Callahan run-in, as Talbot capitalized on an inadvertent assist by former teammate Ruslan Fedotenko at 5:10 of the opening period.
After a Pascal Dupuis shot was blocked, Fedotenko gloved the puck out of the air and dropped it onto the ice, only to have Talbot swoop in and throw a shot past New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist for his fifth.
Kris Letang got the winning goal at 12:01 of the second, as he took a pass from Crosby and drove a slap shot past Lundqvist from inside the left circle for his fifth.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Chris Conner corralled a Tyler Kennedy rebound in the slot and threw a low shot by Lundqvist to put the Penguins up by three.
Marian Gaborik, who had been questionable for the game because of illness, spoiled Fleury's bid for his second shutout in less than a week by scoring from the top of the left circle at 16:19.
"He has a quick release, and I didn't expect him to shoot from that far," Fleury said. "The shot wasn't that hard. It was just quick."
Gaborik's goal didn't cost the Penguins anything more than a shutout, though, because they never lost their composure or focus.
"It was a solid game from our team," Talbot said. "We worked hard so we could be in control most of the game, which is what happened.
"It might not have been the prettiest game, but it worked out really well."
First Published November 30, 2010 12:00 am