Malkin, Crosby propel Penguins past Devils

Author:
Publish date:

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored

power-play goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended one of the

best homestands in franchise history, twice scoring two goals in

a matter of seconds against Martin Brodeur during a 6-1 rout of

the skidding New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Brodeur and the Devils extended a late-season slump (0-5-1) that

is jeopardizing their high playoff seeding. Brodeur had allowed

six goals against the Penguins only once previously, on March

11, 2006, in Pittsburgh during a 6-3 Penguins victory.

Brodeur, the NHL career victories leader who will be honored at

home during a ceremony Friday night, hasn't won in six starts

since going 9-1 following his return from a biceps injury.

Pittsburgh scored early and often in this one, a rare rout of

their longtime rivals. Matt Cooke and Bill Guerin scored 36

seconds apart in the first period to make it 2-0, and Crosby and

Jordan Staal made the game one-sided by scoring in a 13-second

span of the second, making it 5-1.

Brodeur is 33-24 with four ties against Pittsburgh.

The Penguins finished 6-1-1 during the longest homestand in

franchise history, improving to 13-1-2 since Feb. 25, when they

were in danger of missing the playoffs. Now, they are tied in

points with Philadelphia for the fourth spot and home-ice

advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Devils were pushing Boston for first place in the conference

before their slide, which has dropped them three points behind

second-place Washington. The Devils have been outscored 22-7

during a slump that caused coach Brent Sutter to tell his

players "the foot is down ... enough's enough" during an

extended team meeting Tuesday.

Malkin's goal, his 34th, came on a hard wrist shot from the

right circle late in the first with Devils players in front and

back of him and gave him a NHL-high 108 points. Some fans in the

106th consecutive sellout crowd at Mellon Arena began chanting

"MVP, MVP."

Crosby's 30th goal was only his second on the power play in 56

games, a deflection of Kris Letang's shot from the left circle.

Crosby also had an assist, giving him 99 points for the season.

The game between division rivals that could meet in the playoffs

had the chippiness of a postseason game.

In the first period, the Devils' Dainius Zubrus charged across

the ice to attempt to level defenseman Brooks Orpik after Orpik

put his stick out and tripped Zubrus as he skated up ice. Orpik

drew interference and roughing penalties, and Zubrus was called

for roughing.

Crosby and New Jersey's Bobby Holik exchanged words as the teams

left the ice at the end of the second period, and Pittsburgh's

Hal Gill and the Devils' David Clarkson also got into a verbal

exchange. Sutter drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Clarkson and the 38-year-old Guerin traded punches in the third

period.

Notes: Pittsburgh is 15-2-3 under interim coach Dan Bylsma and

12-2-1 in its last 15 at home. ... The teams split their

six-game season series, with Pittsburgh losing once in overtime.

... New Jersey hadn't lost six in a row since November 2000. ...

Crosby has scored at least one point in 16 consecutive games,

although the NHL recognizes it as only as 12-game streak because

he was injured for four games.

TOP HEADLINES

George Armstrong

George Armstrong: The Greatest Captain in Toronto Maple Leafs History

There have been better players who have played for one of the NHL's most tradition-steeped franchises, but none was Armstrong's equal when it came to being a leader of men.

USATSI_15462410_168393426_lowres
Play

NHL Power Rankings: Montreal Flying High

The Canadiens have put together the total package early on, while Vegas continues to live up to the hype.

USATSI_13865592
Play

Can Post-Trade Patrik Laine become Post-Trade Brett Hull?

Both were traded early in their careers. Both had scintillating shots and questionable defensive acumen. Will we one day look back on Laine-to-Columbus like we do Hull-to-St. Louis?