Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin prove repeatedly that they are the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top players. They are currently and often one and two in the team’s player statistics. Crosby leads the team with 66 points and Malkin is second with 60. They are truly a dynamic duo.
Crosby & Malkin Raising (or Lowering) the Bar
Tuesday night in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes, both players proved that they can excel on the ice, even in negative fashion. The pair combined for all five of the Penguins penalties that were called during the game. This is a mark that, up to this point, has not happened before. When Crosby and Malkin put their minds to it, they can work together on any facet of the game, even getting sent to the penalty box.
Over 12,100 fans were on hand to witness history in the making. Many were actually Penguins fans who shouted loudly at 2:15 in the first period when Scott Wilson deflected the puck past Cam Ward on a shot from Patric Hornqvist.
Then the real story of the night began. Malkin went to the sin bin, getting called for hooking at 3:48. After the Penguins killed off this first penalty, Malkin decided that the night was going to be special, and immediately received another penalty for high sticking at 6:09. He was off and running in the penalty box race.
The Hurricanes took full advantage of the chance and Jeff Skinner scored as the power play was about to end, tying the game at 1-1.
Victor Rask and the Hurricanes’ power play unit worked extremely hard, not letting the puck out of the Penguins’ zone.
That power play goal sparked something in the Hurricanes that was non-existent against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Sunday. Whereas that game was slow, sloppy and seemingly directionless, the ‘Canes spent this first period leaving it all on the ice.
Crosby also sensed that this was a night like no other before it, and decided to join Malkin in the penalty world. He got a two-minute sideline view of the ice for tripping at 16:37. This was the third power play opportunity of the first period for the ‘Canes. The Pens killed it off and the period ended tied 1-1.
The Dynamic Duo Weren’t Done
At 2:55 in the second period, Malkin gets the “penalty hat trick” on a delay of game penalty for sending the puck over the glass.
Crosby was whistled for his second trip to the penalty box at 10:14 for slashing.
The ‘Canes put themselves in a bad way when Aho got two minutes for interference and then Stalberg promptly got two for slashing. Crosby took advantage of the 5-on-3 edge and launched a shot from outside that blew by Ward. The Penguins led 2-1.
The Penguins began to assert their dominance from that point on, and the Crosby power play goal turned out to be the game-winner. But, the Crosby/Malkin show was not done.
Malkin was not to be outdone on the score sheet. At 9:41 in the third period he buried a slapper into the net after receiving a pass from behind Ward from Carl Hagelin.
Ward was on his game for much of the night, but these Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and are playing like they are feeling like another deep playoff run is very possible.
The top pair of Crosby and Malkin each scored and had four penalties between them. Crosby went for it all and got another penalty at 10:14 in the third for slashing. There were five Penguins penalties on the night, and all of them were assessed to Crosby and Malkin.
In the end, the greatness of Crosby and Malkin as a pair was once again evident with each scoring a goal. But, as the post game radio and television folks noted, all five penalties being taken between the two was a first. Even when there are negative things in their game, they truly are remarkable.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.