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Penguins' Crosby comes to Malkin's defense after Ballard check

| Monday, April 6, 2009

• Sidney Crosby does not fight often, but he wrestled with Florida's Keith Ballard late in the first period Sunday after Ballard caught Penguins center Evgeni Malkin with a check that caused Malkin to flip onto his back as he entered the offensive zone. "I thought the hit was a little low," said Crosby, who received a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in addition to the five-minute major he and Ballard were each given for fighting. Malkin said he was not hurt on the hit, which he called "fine." Ballard said the hit "was clean" and was not surprised Crosby came to Malkin's defense. "They were on the power play, so they didn't have a bunch of tough guys out there," he said. "He's their captain, and he understands that no matter who it is, you have to do something. He's an intense player, competitive. At that point of the game, that was pretty much the right thing to do."

• Penguins forward Petr Sykora said the best way to assure Malkin of winning the scoring title — he leads Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, 108 to 106 — is to try ignoring the race. "Everybody is paying attention to it," Sykora said. "The less we worry about it, the bigger chance we have for 'Geno' to win it."

• Interim coach Dan Bylsma said he was not "frustrated" that the Penguins posted a high shot total against Florida. They were credited with 43 against Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun who turned aside 41 in his club's 4-2 victory. "The plan was to look for upwards of 40 or 45 shots to win," Bylsma said. "This is a team that gives up about 37 shots per game, and their goalies usually only allow two to go in. You know you need shots against Florida."

• Philippe Boucher and Eric Godard were scratched for the Penguins. Boucher has yet to play since returning March 20 from the long-term injury list. He has corrective left-foot surgery in February.


42.5 — Shots averaged by the Penguins against Florida in four games this season.

11 — Goals scored by the Penguins against Florida this season.

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