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Penguins' sellout streak to reach 300 vs. Maple Leafs

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen acknowledges the crowd after the Penguins beat the Senators on Friday, May 24, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins will have their 300th consecutive sellout Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.

Streak by numbers

A statistical look back at 299 consecutive home sellouts by the Penguins:

Total attendance: 5,295,202

Penguins' regular-season record: 168-68-17

Penguins' playoff record: 28-18

Penguins' divisional record: 53-26-5

Sidney Crosby's statistics: 128 goals, 212 assists, 340 points


Feb. 14, 2007: A shootout winner from Erik Christensen starts the streak.

March 13, 2007: Mario Lemieux upstages Sidney Crosby's big night ­— a goal, three points, shootout winner — by announcing a new arena deal.

May 18, 2008: Local boy Ryan Malone scores twice against the Flyers to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.

June 4, 2008: The Cup is finally raised in Pittsburgh, but by Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.

June 4, 2009: One year later, Jordan Staal's short-handed goal in Game 4 turns around the Cup Final rematch.

Oct. 2, 2009: A third, and last, Cup banner goes up at Mellon Arena.

Oct. 7, 2010: Even a Flyers' victory can't ruin the opening of Consol Energy Center.

Feb. 2, 2011: Brent Johnson floors Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro and loses a shutout to an ejection.

April 7, 2012: Evgeni Malkin's 50th goal caps his MVP season and clinches a second scoring title.

May 9, 2013: Tyler Kennedy's breakaway goal sparks a pivotal Game 5 victory over the Islanders in Round 1.

In their own words

Nov. 21, 2011

Sidney Crosby scores two goals and produces four points in his first game after missing 10-plus months because of concussion symptoms.

“I just remember coming out to warm up and seeing all those signs — the welcome back (SID!) signs. Obviously, I was excited to get back into the lineup after missing so much time. But, also, to see that much support definitely meant a lot. I think you can tell by the way I started I was pretty energized by that.”

— Crosby

June 9, 2009

Marc-Andre Fleury and Rob Scuderi scramble desperately to cover a loose puck in the final seconds of a Game 6 victory in the Stanley Cup Final.

“I don't remember hearing much. I was so focused on finding the puck, trying to prevent a goal. There was just no noise. Then it got loud, and that was nice — especially at the Mellon (Arena), because it always got so loud there. That was loudest. We wanted it bad, but (the fans) wanted it bad, too. That was the biggest win I've had at home.”

— Fleury

May 28, 2008

Brooks Orpik dishes out “free candy,” hitting seemingly every Detroit skater on the ice during a Game 3 victory in the Stanley Cup Final.

“That (shift) sticks out in my mind. Mellon (Arena) was a really loud building. There were times when games weren't going your way or some of those games when there was a tough stretch during the season that you could always feed off the fans' energy. That always helped out during the playoffs.”

— Orpik

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Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 11:18 p.m.

Matt Niskanen knows what to make of the Penguins' home sellout streak.

“It's more than just a number,” Niskanen said. “It adds something.”

It has added up, too.

The streak hits 300 on Wednesday night. The NHL record belongs to Colorado at 487 (1995-2006) and the current best run is Toronto's at 409.

The Penguins will join the Steelers (348) in selling out at least 300 consecutive home games.

What started against the Chicago Blackhawks on Valentine's Day 2007 continues against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thanksgiving Eve — the date on the calendar that Pittsburghers have often viewed as the unofficial start to hockey season.

The streak has known as many Penguins head coaches (Michel Therrien and Dan Bylsma) and MVPs (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) as it has buildings (Mellon Arena and Consol Energy Center) and Stanley Cup Finals (2008 a nd 20 09).

The streak has welcomed Marian Hossa, Bill Guerin and Jarome Iginla; welcomed back Alex Kovalev; and thanked for the memories Max Talbot, Jordan Staal and Sergei Gonchar.

The streak has included a big announcement by Mario Lemieux and a big statue of him.

The streak did not include two “home” losses — one in Stockholm and another at Heinz Field.

More than 5 million fans have attended games during the streak. The Penguins have won 66 percent of home games during the streak.

Yeah, 66.

The Penguins never sold out an entire season during Lemieux's playing days. This season would mark a seventh consecutive of full houses.

“I knew Pittsburgh was a good hockey town, but maybe I didn't know how good of a hockey town it was,” St. Louis native and Penguins forward Joe Vitale said.

“It kind of gets loud, even for warm-ups.”

Niskanen, who formerly played before a lot of empty seats in Dallas , said some of his teammates “could” take playing before capacity crowds for granted.

“It was a pleasant surprise when I came here,” he said. “I figured they had good fans, but I had no idea about this streak.”

He does now.

So does his coach, Dan Bylsma, who offered an example of the Penguins' home-ice advantage during the streak. On March 19, 2013: Niskanen scored the winner against Washington off a rush that followed two consecutive penalty kills in the third period.

“I remember the building shaking,” Bylsma said. “The buildup of the penalty kill, the crowd going crazy… and it felt like we had already scored the goal before the puck went into the net.

“You watched the replay, and the camera was shaking. You get that sense.”

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