The Associated Press
Saturday, November 28, 2009 10:21 PM
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby had his fourth career hat trick and added two assists for his second five-point game and the Pittsburgh Penguins won for the fourth time in five games, 8-3 over the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Crosby fell a point short of his career high for points. He had six points with a goal and five assists Dec. 13, 2006, in an 8-4 win at Philadelphia.
Crosby scored once in the first and twice in the third period and added two-first period assists to help the Penguins rout the Rangers, winless in regulation at Mellon Arena in their past 13 tries.
Evgeni Malkin, Max Talbot, Mark Eaton, Pascal Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy also scored for Pittsburgh, which has won six of eight and remained tied with Washington atop the Eastern Conference standings with 36 points.
Defensemen Marc Staal, Matt Gilroy and Michal Rozsival scored for New York, which has lost four of six and is 6-12-1 since a 7-1 start.
The Penguins welcomed three regulars back to the lineup from injury - winger Kennedy and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang - in scoring their most goals of the season and most against the Rangers since Oct. 14, 2000.
Crosby scored 17:43 into the contest to break a 1-1 tie and give Pittsburgh a lead it would never relinquish, barely keeping a New York clearing attempt in the zone, walking in and firing a wrist shot that beat Rangers backup goalie Steve Valiquette high to the stick side.
His second of the game and 14th of the season came 3:14 into the third, 2:51 after former Penguin Rozsival had pulled New York to 4-3. Malkin had slipped a puck along the goal line while Valiquette sprawled, and Crosby picked up the puck and banked it off him.
After Dupuis had made it 6-3, Crosby scored on the power play with 8:31 to play, firing a wrist shot from the right-wing circle just under the far crossbar, eliciting a deluge of hats onto the ice on a night in which the 141st consecutive sellout crowd at Mellon Arena was given free ballcaps upon entry.
Crosby, who assisted goals by Malkin and Talbot, finished the game with a plus-4 rating, matching a career high.
With 1:31 left in the first, he sprung Talbot to walk down the slot, deke and tuck the puck between Valiquette's pads.
It was Talbot's first goal since he had two in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. He missed the first 21 games of this season after offseason shoulder surgery.
NOTES: Reigning NHL scoring champion Malkin has a six-game scoring streak. ... Kennedy had missed the previous 11 games with a lower-body injury believed to have been his groin, Letang hadn't played in nine games due to a shoulder ailment and Goligoski missed six with an undisclosed ailment. ... The Rangers have gotten 18 goals from defensemen this season, tied for second in the NHL.