Fleury, Crosby lead Penguins to victory over Sharks at Consol
The Penguins are best against the West.
Sidney Crosby is not sure why, though.
See: the second period Thursday night.
Four goals in about seven minutes busted open a scoreless tie, and the Penguins humbled the San Jose Sharks, 5-1, at Consol Energy Center.
Crosby assisted on three of those second-period goals, doing in a short time what 289 other NHL players have failed to do this season.
Somehow, he was upstaged by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 23 of his 44 saves while the Penguins were befuddling the Sharks with a combination of pace and precision passing.
Fleury acknowledged there is nothing a goalie can do when the Penguins are rolling as they were in the second period.
“Um, try to get some whistles maybe,” Fleury said. “I don't think there's that much because the way we play is so up-and-down.”
General manager Ray Shero's decision not to part ways with Fleury, who has faltered in each of the last four postseasons, has looked like one of his best moves.
Fleury has started 25 of 30 games, allowed two or fewer goals in 16 games and is 16-7-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
He may have been the Penguins' MVP over the opening two months.
Crosby, though, made a case for his value in the first game the Penguins played this season without his fellow scoring-machine center, Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury).
Malkin, with 37 points, is the only player within striking distance of Crosby's league-best 41. Despite three scoring titles and five combined top-two finishes, Crosby and Malkin never have finished 1-2 for the Art Ross Trophy.
The Penguins (20-9-1, 41 points) are chasing a more prominent trophy — the Stanley Cup that has eluded them since 2009.
Their history under coach Dan Bylsma suggests they would do well in a Final if they can get there. This was their 43rd victory against the West since Bylsma was hired almost five years ago.
They are 43-15-9 against the West and 24-7-4 at home under Bylsma.
The Penguins are 5-2-0 this season against the West, which had 10 of 14 clubs at or above .500 before Thursday's games.
The West is 104-45-19 against the East.
“I don't know if there's any great explanation for that,” Crosby said. “We try to do the best we can and prepare. When you see a new team that you don't see too often, you probably prepare more than usual.”
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said that would be tough for the Penguins because “our coaches do a great job of having things for us to study.”
“They had a profile for every player (on the Sharks),” he said.
The Sharks (19-4-5, 43 points) had only lost in regulation to Chicago, Boston and Vancouver — the defending Cup and East champs, and a perennial contender.
Wingers Pascal Dupuis (his fourth), Jayson Megna (third) and Chris Kunitz (15th and 16th) scored for the Penguins in their second-period surge. Defenseman Kris Letang added his sixth goal in the third period.
Dupuis' marker was his first in 11 games and only his second in 24 contests.
The Penguins played with three AHL regulars among their bottom six forwards and had winger Jussi Jokinen as the second-line center. They have won five in a row but could use Dupuis finding his 20-goal form from the past two seasons.
However, he did not finish the game against San Jose, and Bylsma said there was no update on his status.
There is something, said former Dallas Stars Matt Niskanen and James Neal, to the Penguins being a tough opponent to play against if not playing against them often.
Kunitz, a former Anaheim Duck, called it a “system thing.”
“I think if teams haven't seen it, it can be pretty challenging,” he said.
Or as Fleury described it, “overwhelming.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates think Mercer’s defense deserves more credit
- Rayburn businessman honored for charitable work
- Woman who stabbed while naked in McKees Rocks believed to be in New Kensington area
- Roundup: Study finds 35 percent in US facing debt collectors; JPMorgan paying $650K to settle CFTC charges; more
- Valley resident new CEO at Jefferson
- Tech giants lead rush for profits in foreign countries
- China investigates Microsoft in monopoly case
- Home price gains slow for 6th-straight month
- Jimmy Dean moves beyond breakfast
- Most back Holy Family’s plan to house children who crossed border
- Fed to keep cards close to the vest