Sidney Crosby had two goals to extend his point streak to 15 games, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their ninth straight by routing the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 on Saturday night.
Even without top forward Evgeni Malkin, who was sidelined by a knee injury, the Penguins didn’t miss a beat. Crosby has five goals in two games, following his hat trick against Atlanta on Thursday.
Paul Martin set the tone with two first-period goals, and Michael Rupp, Tyler Kennedy and Deryk Engelland also scored for the Penguins, who have points in 12 consecutive games (11-0-1). Pittsburgh also got two assists each from Kris Letang and Mark Letestu and won on the road for the sixth straight time.
The Blue Jackets dropped their fifth in a row, losing by a combined 12-2 in a little over 24 hours. They were shut out for the first time this season, 5-0 at Buffalo, on Friday night.
It got so bad that a huge contingent of Penguins fans chanted, ”We want 10!” – in the second period.
Marc-Andre Fleury tied a career high with his eighth straight win, stopping 21 shots.
Crosby has 17 goals and 14 assists in his streak. He was going for a third hat trick in four games, but played sparingly and didn’t score in the second half of the game.
Chris Clark and Samuel Pahlsson had goals, and Ethan Moreau added two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have lost as many times in the last nine days as they did in the season’s first 33 days.
Bored in the third period, the capacity crowd did the wave.
The Blue Jackets had promised a strong bounceback against the streaking Penguins after being embarrassed on Friday.
Instead, it was Pittsburgh that came out flying. The Penguins outshot the Blue Jackets 16-2 in the first period and chased goalie Steve Mason. They scored on all three power plays and built a 4-0 lead in less than 16 minutes.
Martin scored the first of his two first-period goals on a fluke play. His centering pass for Pascal Dupuis deflected off defenseman Mike Commodore’s skate and went between the pads of a surprised Mason.
Just over 2 minutes later, the puck was tied up in the right corner and popped free to Eric Godard. His soft shot somehow slipped past Mason, lazily drifting past him to the goal line where Rupp jammed it in.
Martin then notched his second of the period – he had scored only one goal in 27 games coming in – when he skated unimpeded to the right hash mark and beat Mason during another power play.
At 15:49, Letestu fired a hard pass to the right of the goal cage where Crosby joined the barrage with a redirect.
Mason, who gave up four goals on 12 shots, was replaced by Mathieu Garon.
The Penguins added three more goals in the second period. Kennedy rammed home a rebound, Crosby converted a 2-on-1 pass from Chris Kunitz, and Deryk Engelland scored with a seeing-eye shot from the right boards at the blue line to make it 7-1.
About the only thing Blue Jackets fans had to cheer was Pahlsson’s nifty redirect and Clark’s power-play goal, in addition to a fight or two.
The game drew 19,143 to make it the second-highest crowd to see an NHL game at Nationwide Arena.