Sidney Crosby Nets Hat Trick as Penguins March Past Sabres

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Sidney Crosby Nets Hat Trick as Penguins March Past Sabres PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby scored
three goals in slightly more than eight minutes of the second period as
the Pittsburgh Penguins quickly turned a two-goal deficit into a
two-goal lead, then held on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 on Monday
night.

Crosby tied Patrick Marleau of idle
San Jose for the NHL goals lead with 37 by following up his
game-altering performance during the Penguins’ 2-1 shootout win Sunday
against Detroit with an even better one. Crosby’s hat trick was his
third of the season and fifth of his career, and the Penguins pressed
unsuccessfully to try to get him a fourth goal in the final period.

After protecting a two-goal lead for
much of the period, the Penguins were holding on at the end. Jason
Pominville
scored on a power play with 3 minutes remaining, and the
Penguins were forced to kill off Brooks Orpik‘s holding penalty with
2:04 remaining as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made several excellent saves
in the closing seconds.

Crosby, who scored in regulation and
in the shootout on Sunday, gave Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller a
pre-Olympics reminder of how he is capable of taking over a game.
Miller could be in net for the United States when it plays Crosby-led
Canada on Feb. 21 in Vancouver, and Crosby already knows he can beat
him in a variety of ways.

Crosby got the Penguins to within 3-2
on a power play at 10:53 of the second, almost fanning on a shot off
Alex Goligoski‘s pass from center point but still getting enough on it
to get it past Miller. He had made a combined 69 saves while winning
his previous two starts.

Miller’s frustration showed, too,
when he yanked Crosby’s skates out from underneath him as a play was
ending less than two minutes into the third period.

After Jordan Staal tied it with a
wrist shot that deflected off Miller’s right arm, Crosby took advantage
of a Buffalo giveaway to score at 17:30. Miller was clearing the puck
behind the net only to have it ricochet off defenseman Tyler Myers
skate directly to Crosby, whose shot rebounded off the goalie and
trickled across the goal line.

Crosby scored again at 18:55, working
a break with Kris Letang to beat Miller on a hard wrist shot, causing a
shower of caps onto the ice.

The Penguins captain has never had a
four-goal game in the NHL, and it was evident in the third period he
was going for it, twice failing on good scoring opportunities early in
the period.

Pittsburgh’s other goal, by rookie
Mark Letestu 47 seconds in, was the first of his NHL career. Later in
the first, Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek scored 48 seconds apart to give
Buffalo the lead and Tim Kennedy made it 3-1 at 7:32 of the second.
Vanek had a goal and an assist.

Notes
The last time the teams met,
Pittsburgh couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 in Buffalo on Dec. 29.
… The Penguins tied Buffalo for third place in the Eastern Conference
with 71 points apiece. … Pittsburgh won successive home games for
only the second time in two months. … Miller is 2-5-2 in his last
nine against Pittsburgh. … Crosby has six goals and seven assists in
his last nine games against the Sabres. … Fleury made 30 saves.

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