Pens vs. Islanders: 15 December 2006

See what happens when you put the right lines together?

4th line: Jarko Ruutu – Chris Thorburn – Maxime Talbot: All three are great penalty killers and absolute maniacs on the ice. You expect that from a 4th line, but we're getting points and scoring chances from them now, too. Max had a shorthanded goal last night, just 27 seconds after another Penguins goal. Ronald Petrovicky is an interchangeable part with any of these three.

3rd line: Dominic Moore – Jordan Staal – Michele Ouellet: Staal had the goal just before Talbot, directly off a face-off win by Moore in the circle to the right of a frustrated Rick DiPietro. Right now, this line is doing its best work as a puck-possession line. Moore and Staal are also excellent penalty killers.

2nd line: Nils Ekman – Evgeni Malkin – Colby Armstrong: And here's where the Pens are in a quandry. This line was better Wednesday night with Erik Christiansen at left wing. With Ekman back from the flu, Christiansen was a healthy scratch. No goals tonight, but all three had assists on special-teams goals. Over the long haul, we'll need more production from these guys than we're getting but, as you'll see, we have people picking up the slack.

1st line: Ryan Malone – Sidney Crosby – Mark Recchi: Damn, are these guys scary good together. Let's break down the scoring by this line last night:

  • The Pens get a 3-on-2 break. Recchi carries up the middle, then passes to Crosby, who gains the blue line along the right wing boards. Sid glides to the top of the circle, then throws a perfect cross-ice pass to Malone in the far circle. Malone lines up his shot, and burns DiPietro with a high wrister.
  • The Pens are cycling in the Islanders' zone. Whitney to Recchi, who drops one back to Crosby and heads for the net. Crosby eludes his defender and fires a wrist shot through traffic to beat DiPietro.
  • The Pens get a 3-on-2 break. Recchi carries up the middle, then passes to Crosby, who gains the blue line along the right wing boards. Sid glides to the top of the circle, then throws a perfect cross-ice pass to Malone in the far circle. Malone lines up his shot, and burns Mike Dunham with a high wrister. (Yes, I just cut-and-pasted that first goal. The play developed pretty much the same way. Dunham started the 3rd for DiPietro.)
  • Crosby puts on a puck-handling show worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters in the right corner, gets space from his defender, and sweeps behind the net. Malone camps just off the left post and buries the one-timer from Sid.

Sid gets another 4 points, giving him 10 in 2 games. Ryan Malone gets his first NHL hat trick. Mark Recchi gets his 800th career assist on Malone's second goal. Jocelyn Thibault holds off a late New York charge for his first win of the season.

17,028 screaming fans get treated to one of the most entertaining shows in sports today.

Final Score: Penguins 7, Islanders 4, defensemen faked out of their skates: 5.

Three Stars:

  1. Ryan Malone (3G, first NHL hat trick)
  2. Mark Recchi (1G, 3A, 800th NHL assist)
  3. Sidney Crosby (1G, 3A)

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