Crosby Gets First “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 on Thursday night in a thrilling game that was decided in a shootout after the Bruins posted a mighty comeback.  After going down 4-0 against the Penguins in the first half of the game, the Bruins battled back to tie the game and force the overtime marker, but were beat in the shootout after failing to put anything past Penguins reserve-backup goalie Ty Conklin.  Sidney Crosby had a 3-point night (1G, 2A) and a “Gordie Howe hat trick” (goal, assist, fight) as he picked up his career first fighting major against Andrew Ference. 

In the 1st period it was all Penguins.  Just 55 seconds into the game, Evgeni Malkin put the Penguins on the board for the early lead.  Battling along the boards, Colby Armstrong poked the puck free to Sidney Crosby who placed a perfect pass on the stick of Evgeni Malkin as he circled back off the blue line and into the center of the ice.  Malkin took the pass on his forehand and blew a shot past Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.  Then, at 8:26, Sidney Crosby redirected a Colby Armstrong pass from the boards as 6’9″, 255 pound Zdano Chara was draped over Crosby like a dirty blanket.  Crosby scored the goal and paid the price as he was driven into the end boards by Chara and Ference.  Sergei Gonchar also picked up an assist on the play.  At 11:53, Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the night on a failed clearing attempt by Bruins’ Andrew Ference.  Ference threw the puck around the sideboards from behind the goal, where Sidney Crosby picked up the puck and passed it to Malkin at center ice who ripped it off the post and into the net to make it 3-0.  The first period featured two dances between behemoths Zdano Chara and Georges Laraque, neither of which really resulted in anything more than a wrestling match.  The first “fight” ended up being called a matching 2-minute delay of game penalty at 12:30.  The rematch came 6-seconds after the first penalties expired, and was essentially another wrestling match that left Laraque laughing in disappointment.  This time, the officials called matching 5-minute majors.  The Penguins successfully killed the only man-advantage situation in the first period, and outshot the Bruins 14-13. 

In the 2nd, Sidney Crosby picked up his first career fighting major in an emotional battle with Andrew Ference.  Ference threw a a couple of shots at Crosby in the corner, before Crosby decided he had enough and threw a few of punches to the face and head and left Ference bloodied.  It is unclear if the cut to the top of Ference’s head came from the fist of Crosby or his own helmet as it was dislodged from his face.  The two got matching majors and Ference picked up an additional 2-minutes for roughing.  The Penguins failed to convert on the man advantage. 

At 11:26 of the 2nd, Eric Christensen redirected a Ryan Whitney shot to put the Penguins up 4-0.  Colby Armstrong picked up his 3rd assist of the night on the Christensen goal.  Boston finally got on the board at 16:04 as Marco Sturm beat goaltender Ty Conklin on a redirected shot from the point with Sergei Gonchar in the box for a tripping call.  Andrew Ference and Glen Metropolit picked up the assists.  Then, a minute and a half later while shorthanded, Jeremy Reich beat Crosby on a face-off in the Penguins zone and passed the puck to P.J. Axelsson who put the puck into the Penguins net to draw within 2-goals.  The Penguins were outshot 11-9 in the period. 

In the 3rd, the Bruins rallied and outshot the Penguins 17-4, scoring two late goals to tie the game and force the overtime.  The first goal came at 13:14 from Petteri Nokalainen who picked up a rare rebound off from Ty Conklin and threw it in the net through the 5-hole.  Andrew Ference and Glen Metropolit picked up the assists.  At 16:27, Erik Christensen picked up a hooking call and went to the box giving Boston the chance to tie the game.  The Bruins didn’t disappoint their fans as they finished their 4-goal comeback off from the stick of Dennis Wideman in the slot on the power play.  Marco Sturm and Marc Savard were credited with the assists.  With a little over a minute left in the period, the Penguins were dealt a blow when Mark Eaton got caught in an awkward position reaching for the puck and was run into by a Bruins’ player.  Eaton left the game in obvious pain with what looked like a potentially serious upper body/shoulder injury.  No further information was avialable on the extent of his injury.

After the Penguins dominated a scoreless overtime period and outshot the Bruins 2-0, the game went to the shootout to determine the extra point.  Erik Christensen shot first for the Penguins and converted high on the stick side of Tim Thomas.  Ty Conklin then stopped Phil Kessel.  Kris Letang came out next and beat Tim Thomas, making him a perfect 3 for 3 on the shootout.  With the game on the line, Conklin stopped Marco Sturm to clinch the victory for the Penguins.

With the exception of the 3rd period, the Penguins played a very good game.  Sidney Crosby (1G, 2A) and Colby Armstrong (3A) each had 3-points, Evgeni Malkin had 2-goals, and Erik Christensen picked up a rare goal.  Ty Conklin played a good game in net, and only gave up 1 questionable goal off from a rebound.  He had 37 saves on 41 shots (0.902 save percentage) and was 100% in the shootout. 

The Penguins travel back to Pittsburgh on Friday to host the New York Islanders in the first of a 4-game homestand before traveling to Buffalo for the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. 

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