Published on February 25th, 2013 | by James Conley0
Crosby Solid in Malkin’s Absence as Pens Top Bolts 5-3
Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist, Paul Martin added two points and Beau Bennett scored his first career NHL goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 5-3 win over Tampa Bay Sunday night.
The win moved the Penguins into first place in the Atlantic Division and into a tie for the Eastern Conference lead.
“It felt pretty good, definitely,” Bennett said. “Get a big win with it as well, it goes hand in hand. It felt awesome and hopefully just stay after it and keep this win streak going.”
Bennett’s first goal came in his fifth career game. After three starts on the third line, Bennett was moved to the second line with Malkin and James Neal Friday before Malkin’s injury broke the lines up once again.
With Malkin on the shelf, Bennett got the start alongside Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis, but it was a point position on Pittsburgh 5-on-3 power play that finally broke him open and allowed him to find his first NHL goal.
“This morning when he was there he seemed to have a pretty good knack for finding the open lane,” Crosby said. “Tanger made an unbelievable play to get that puck and get it over. You know Beau knows where to go over there.”
Sunday also marked the Penguins’ first game this season without Evgeni Malkin, who suffered a concussion in the third period of Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Malkin was formally announced to have suffered a concussion by Dan Bylsma following Sunday’s win.
Malkin was said to have been suffering from short-term memory loss due to the hit, but is reportedly recovering.
“After the hit, Evgeni suffered some short-term memory loss and therefore was diagnosed with a concussion,” Bylsma said. “He’s had no other symptoms. He’s feeling fine and his memory is returning.”
According to the team, Malkin will not accompany the Penguins on their upcoming three-game road trip.
Of course, it was Malkin who shouldered the team while Crosby missed most of last season with post-concussion syndrome. Sunday, Crosby was able to begin repaying the favor to the Penguins’ other MVP center.
Crosby had two first-period goals in Sunday’s game before assisting on Bennett’s game-winner. His three-point night was matched by Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who managed to retain a one-point lead over Crosby in the NHL scoring race with a power play goal and two assists.
The two entered and left Sunday’s game as the top-two scorers in the NHL.
After starting the season at a tepid pace (by his standards), Crosby now has 21 points in his last 12 games. Sunday’s game also represented his sixth three-point effort of the season, and moved him into sole possession of third place in scoring in Penguins’ franchise scoring.
Crosby’s 637 points (232-405) now trail only franchise greats Jaromir Jagr (1,079 points) and Mario Lemieux (1,723 points).
Pittsburgh jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period, leading the Lightning to yank goaltender Anders Lindback after he allowed 3 goals on 10 first period shots. The Lightning made it a one-goal game at points of the second and third periods, but Pittsburgh eventually sealed the game after letting off the gas of a strong first period.
“We started pretty good,” Crosby said. “Had good puck possession. They’re a dangerous team, so we wanted to make sure we played in their end as much as we could.”
The win moves Pittsburgh to 13-6-0 on the season and 4-3-0 at home. They’ll play their next three games on the road, where their 8-2-0 mark represents the best road record in the NHL.
Audio/quotes courtesy Jason Seidling & Pittsburgh Penguins