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Penguins have never been better on power play

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin chasing the Art Ross Trophy and James Neal healthy, the Penguins once again rank among the game's scoring elite (3.1 goals per game entering Saturday's games, fifth in the NHL).

The Penguins are even deadlier when they get the man advantage, cashing in on a league-best 26.5 percent of their power-play chances.

Chris Kunitz (seven power-play goals), Crosby (five), Neal and Kris Letang (four apiece) place in the top 20 league-wide in power-play goals, helping the Penguins easily to eclipse the 18.3 percent power-play league average.

In fact, the 2013-14 Penguins are taking advantage of opponents' penalties at the best clip in franchise history as measured by Power Play Plus (PP+), which compares a team's power-play conversion rate to the league average and places it on a scale where 100 is average.

Kunitz and Crosby are holding court with the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr from the mid-1990s Penguins, surpassing the league average power-play rate by 45 percent this season.

Pens power surge

Season PP+

2013-14 145

1995-96 145

2012-13 135

1996-97 134

1992-93 122

2000-01 122

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

Although Kunitz trails just Washington's Alex Ovechkin (eight) in power-play goals, he'll be hard-pressed to crack the Penguins' single-season top five. Lemieux twice netted 31 power-play goals, ranking third on the NHL's all-time single-season list behind Tim Kerr (34 in 1985-86) and Dave Andreychuk (32 in 1992-93).

Player Year PP goals

Mario Lemieux 1995-96 31

Lemieux 1988-89 31

Kevin Stevens 1992-93 26

Rob Brown 1988-89 24

Lemieux 1987-88 22

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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