Sports Network | December 23, 2010
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Sidney Crosby scored a first-period goal to extend his point streak to 22 games, as Pittsburgh used an early three-goal burst to dump Florida, 5-2, at CONSOL Energy Center.
Crosby tied Dany Heatley for the longest consecutive point streak since the canceled season. Heatley also recorded at least one point in 22 games back in 2005-06 while playing for Ottawa.
Matt Cooke, Mark Letestu, Ben Lovejoy and Pascal Dupuis also lit the lamp for the Penguins, winners in 14 of their last 16 games.
"It's about getting a good start. The last few games we've done that, starting off well, and creating pressure and getting shots," said Crosby. "Fortunately we got some goals early."
Brent Johnson stopped 20-of-21 shots through two periods for Pittsburgh, which pulled within one point of top-overall Philadelphia and play at Washington on Thursday. Marc-Andre Fleury made 15 saves in the third.
Stephen Weiss and Bryan McCabe tallied for the Panthers, whose two-game win streak came to a halt.
Starter Tomas Vokoun was pulled before the 11-minute mark after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Scott Clemmensen finished the game with 18 saves.
It was 4-1 at 6:19 of the second period when Lovejoy let fly from the right boards and the puck ticked off the near post and past Clemmensen. For the 26- year-old defenseman, it was his first career tally.
Fleury closed the pads to stop a breakaway chance by Chris Higgins with just over eight minutes left in the contest, but McCabe brought the Panthers back to within 4-2 with 3:36 remaining on a blistering one-timer from the point.
Clemmensen was summoned to the bench for an extra attacker with under two minutes remaining and Dupuis hit the empty net inside the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
Letestu gave the Pens a lead just 90 seconds into the game, but Weiss blew a shot home to tie the game 73 seconds later.
Crosby then extended his point run with a blistering shot from the left wing at 7:44, and Pittsburgh went up 3-1 when Cooke wristed the puck through a screen and between Vokoun's legs at 10:57.
"It was over in the first 10 minutes," lamented Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer. "There's a reason they're sitting where they are in the standings. All the things we did in Philadelphia the other night, we didn't bring to the rink tonight."
Pittsburgh has won seven of the last nine meetings over Florida since March, 2009...Crosby now has 22 goals and 21 assists during his run...Chris Kunitz posted two assists for Pittsburgh...McCabe has notched three goals in his last four games...Florida completes its three-game pre-Christmas road trip at Buffalo on Thursday.