"What do you want me to say?" Letang asked playfully Monday after
Crosby had two goals and two assists to help Pittsburgh to a 6-2 win
that snuffed the Anaheim Ducks' six-game winning streak and gave the
Penguins a six-game home winning streak.
He gave it a shot.
"I've seen him play really good," Letang said. "Every year, every
time Sid's playing well, that's what we're saying -- what everybody
is saying -- is he's the best player in the world, and it's for a
"I've seen him play unbelievable hockey all his life, and this is
Crosby, who got both of his goals on breakaways, has a laundry list
of recent accomplishments. Among them, he has a career-best
seven-game goal streak and an 11-game point streak. He also has
moved into a tie for fifth in the NHL scoring race with 53 points
and into a tie for seventh place with 24 goals. Since Jan. 1, he has
26 points, almost half his total.
"You never want to give him breakaways, that's for sure, and leaving
your goalie out to dry," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who, along
with left winger Patrick Maroon, scored for Anaheim. "He's the best
player in the world for a reason. He scores goals almost at will if
you let him."
Pittsburgh also got goals from left winger Chris Kunitz, rookie left
winger Conor Sheary, defenseman Olli Maatta and left winger Carl
Hagelin, who scored for the first time since he was acquired from
the Ducks in a Jan. 16 trade. Letang added two assists.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots for his sixth home win
in a row as Pittsburgh, with 61 points, moved into third place in
the Metropolitan Division.
Anaheim goaltender John Gibson was pulled after Pittsburgh's sixth
goal, on 31 shots.
Frederik Andersen entered and stopped all four shots he faced.
Kunitz got his 10th goal when he tipped in a shot by Letang for a
1-0 Pittsburgh lead at 3:38 of the first period. Crosby set things
in motion with a feed to Letang from the corner. Sheary increased
the Penguins' lead to 2-0 at 10:06 with his third goal. From the
right circle, he got his stick on a shot by Letang, causing the puck
to slow and knuckle under Gibson's pads.
The assist was Letang's 250th career point. It also gave him 26
points (eight goals, 18 assists) and 10 multiple-point games in his
past 17 contests.
The Ducks cut their deficit in half when Getzlaf stole the puck from
Letang in the neutral zone, moved into the left circle and beat
Fleury on the short side to make it 2-1 with 50 seconds left in the
Hagelin restored Pittsburgh's two-goal lead with 16.8 seconds
remaining in the first. Bursting in from the blue line, he got
behind the Anaheim defense and beat Gibson with a backhander for his
first goal with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh got a scare when a pass by Crosby hit a stick and
deflected into Letang's face in the second period, but he missed
only a couple of minutes.
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As Letang returned to the Penguins bench, Crosby got the puck at the
far blue line for a long breakaway and slipped the puck under
Gibson's right pad for a 4-1 lead at 15:01 of the second.
Maroon scored off of a two-on-one to pull Anaheim to within 4-2 at
18:54 of the second.
Crosby's second goal was set up by Kunitz. Ducks defenseman Cam
Fowler was hooking Crosby from behind to the point where Crosby was
falling when he got off his shot.
"At first, I think I make a good read by being able to keep the puck
in, next thing you know, I'm chasing him down from the red line,"
Fowler said. "If it had to happen again, maybe I just back off and
keep him in front of me, or I just have to recover better ...
There's, I'd say, maybe two or three guys in the league that make
that play and he's one of them."
The Penguins appreciate that.
"I think his game is at another level," Pittsburgh coach Mike
Sullivan said. "It's consistent. It's not just sporadic. He's hard
to handle. Most teams don't have an answer for him when he plays
with the passion and determination he plays with.
"His game is at another level right now and he's a big reason why we
continue to gain some traction in the standings."
NOTES: Pittsburgh C Evgeni Malkin missed his third game in a row
because of a lower-body injury. Coach Mike Sullivan described Malkin
as day to day. ... Penguins D David Warsofsky missed his eighth game
in a row because of a concussion, but he participated in the morning
skate, the first time since the injury he has joined his teammates
on the ice. ... Penguins C Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's No. 1
star of the week. He had five goals and a league-leading eight
points last week in three games. ... Pittsburgh's healthy scratches
were D Ian Cole and LW Sergei Plotnikov. ... The Penguins host the
New York Rangers on Wednesday in a nationally televised game. ...
The Ducks played the first game of a season-long,
continent-crossing, seven-stop road trip. They play Tuesday at
Philadelphia, the first of two back-to-back sets on the trip. ...
Anaheim scratched D Korbinian Holzer and LW Harry Zolnierczyk, a
former Pittsburgh player.
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