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Old 10-19-2008, 09:38 AM   #688
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Crosby reaches 3 milestones in 4-1 victory against Toronto
Sunday, October 19, 2008
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Matt Freed/Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby, left, is congratulated by teammate Evgeni Malkin after scoring his 100th career goal in the third period last night at Mellon Arena.

Sidney Crosby had four points in the Penguins' first five games.

Nice pace for your average mortal in the National Hockey League.

Nowhere near what the guy many regard as the finest player in the world expects from himself.

Crosby, though, went a long way toward making up his offensive shortfall last night, scoring one goal -- his first of the season and 100th in the NHL -- and setting up three others in the Penguins' 4-1 victory against Toronto at Mellon Arena.

"I don't expect four-point nights, but I definitely wanted to score [in previous games]," Crosby said. "I thought I was doing some good things, and the puck just wasn't going in."

It did last night on his only shot of the game, and Crosby helped to make three other goals possible. Evgeni Malkin, his new/old linemate, matched Crosby's point total by assisting on all four goals.

Throw in the goal linemate Pascal Dupuis contributed, and the reconfigured No. 1 line accounted for nine points, enough to qualify coach Michel Therrien's personnel moves a day earlier as an unabashed success.

"They had a great game, that line," Therrien said. "They responded exactly the way I was expecting."

In addition to his 100th goal, Crosby recorded his 200th assist and 300th point. Coincidentally enough, Malkin's assist on Crosby's goal was his 200th point.

And while it's unlikely that they'll still be linemates when the next batch of milestones comes along, Crosby and Malkin, along with Dupuis, certainly satisfied the mandate Therrien gave them Friday.

"Mike said, 'Score. I need wins. Score,'" Malkin said.

The victory was the first in regulation this season for the Penguins (3-2-1), and completed a 2-1-1 homestand. They will play in Boston tomorrow and are on the road for five of their next six games.

Fox Chapel native Bill Thomas played his first game at Mellon Arena as a member of the Penguins.

He work on the fourth line and logged four minutes, 53 seconds of ice time, 2:06 of it killing penalties.

"It was incredible," he said.

The one snag: Thomas didn't find out he was in the lineup until he was ready to go out for the pregame warmup, and thus didn't have a chance to notify friends and family that he was playing. Tough break, considering that his parents, who had come to the previous three games, gave their tickets to friends last night.

"But I know they watched," Thomas said.

If so, his parents saw Nik Antropov give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 14:25 of the opening period as he rapped a rebound past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. It proved to be the only one of 27 Toronto shots that eluded Fleury.

"Fleury was sharp," Therrien said.

Dupuis countered Antropov's goal at 15:16, when a Crosby centering pass caromed to him in front of the net, and he threw a backhander behind Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph.

The Penguins moved in front to stay a few minutes later, as Miroslav Satan, stationed near the front edge of the crease, steered in a Crosby feed from the right side during a power play at 7:55.

It was his third of the season and second in the past two games, another encouraging sign for the Penguins' offense.

"He's always in a good position to score goals," Therrien said.

Crosby's assist on Satan's goal was his 300th point, and he hit another milestone at 12:15 of the third when, from behind the goal line, he banked a backhand centering pass off Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski, who was sliding into the Maple Leafs' net when the puck caromed off him.

"Sometimes, you need a lucky one like that," Crosby said. "It was definitely welcome."

So was Petr Sykora's first of the season at 13:36, as he steered a Crosby pass by Joseph to close out the scoring and help Crosby to double his point total for the season in a single night.

"I told [Crosby] when he got his fourth point, 'Hey, what a slump there, buddy,' " Dupuis said.

If Crosby was, in fact, in one, it's over. So is the disturbing run of games in which the Penguins were unable to protect a lead.

"We know it's going to be a process," Therrien said. "And we know that we're going to get better."
First published on October 19, 2008 at 12:00 am
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