Penguins pick up an easy win over Senators
Evgeni Malkin always puts on a show when his parents visit from Russia. Apparently he also enjoys impressing the general manager of Russia's Olympic hockey team.
With legendary goaltender Vladislav Tretiak at Mellon Arena, Malkin and his teammates put together a pretty fair impersonation of the Russian Red Army team that Tretiak backstopped 30 years ago.
Malkin ended his slump with a hat trick, and the Penguins scored a variety of beautiful goals while routing the Ottawa Senators, 8-2.
"Tretiak and Geno's parents are always welcome at our games," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Malkin scored a goal in each period and now has 13. His first and third goals came on beautiful feeds from captain Sidney Crosby, who finished with three assists.
"I felt good," Malkin said. "I knew he (Tretiak) was here. Maybe he can come to our next game, too."
In a game when Malkin registered a hat trick and linemates Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz produced four points each, it was Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury who was awarded the No. 1 star.
Fleury stopped 45 of 47 shots. The Penguins allowed Ottawa to fire 24 shots in the opening period.
"I thought we had four or five unbelievable chances in the first period, and we didn't score on them," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "Fleury was outstanding."
Goals by Malkin and the Senators' Anton Volchenkov left the game even through one period. The final 40 minutes belonged to the Penguins.
"We weren't happy with how we played last game," Crosby said, referring to Monday's 4-0 loss against New Jersey. "It was important for us to come out and play well tonight."
Guerin scored on the power play only 1:03 into the second. He registered a shot and was there to bang home the rebound.
The Penguins entered the evening with the NHL's worst-ranked power play but went 3-for-8 with the man advantage.
"I know those three power-play goals are going to make Mike Yeo's Christmas," Guerin said.
Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire was yanked after the second period, not before which he was buried under an avalanche of dazzling skill from the Stanley Cup champions.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored off a pretty Jordan Staal feed to make it 3-1 at the 7:35 mark of the second period, and the rout was on less than four minutes later when Kunitz redirected Guerin's pass to make it 4-1.
Crosby them set up Guerin's 11th goal of the season on an odd-man rush to make the score 5-1.
Malkin scored the fourth goal of the period on a bad-angle shot off a Kunitz feed.
"The power play worked tonight," Malkin said. "Everything worked."
The third period saw more of the same.
Sergei Gonchar, who was to meet with Malkin and Tretiak following the game to discuss the upcoming Olympics, scored his fifth goal of the season. Matt Cooke set up Gonchar from behind the net.
Malkin then set the Mellon Arena crowd into a frenzy when he finished off his fourth career hat trick. He poked the puck into the natural zone to trigger a 2-on-0 with Crosby.
On the third pass of their exchange, Crosby set up Malkin for his third goal.
All that remained was Guerin's attempt at a 10th career hat trick. The crowd chanted his name throughout the final 20 minutes, and he earned a couple of quality opportunities but couldn't score. He finished with a game-high nine shots.
"It was pretty entertaining to see the crowd respond to Billy every time he went on the ice," Bylsma said.
The Penguins are tied with New Jersey atop the Atlantic Division with 53 points and next play Sunday at Mellon Arena against Toronto.
"This was a good night for us," Crosby said.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson left the game in the first period after receiving a hit from Craig Adams and did not return.
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