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Penguins tough to match

Jets have few answers for Pittsburgh's star-studded lineup

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/3/2012 (3108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby gets a high stick from Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien in the first period of the teams'  NHL tussle in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

GENE J. PUSKAR / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby gets a high stick from Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien in the first period of the teams' NHL tussle in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

PITTSBURGH, PA -- It was quite the scene watching a Penguins' staffer throw up the stop sign in front of James Neal, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as they left the ice following an 8-4 thrashing of the Winnipeg Jets.

 

All were honoured as the three stars of the evening and were asked to do the quick twirl on the ice while another capacity crowd stayed behind to cheer.

And just to put an exclamation point on the Pens' skill, Crosby -- who was spectacular with four assists -- was actually the third star.

"There's still areas where I need to get sharper," said Crosby, who now has nine points, all assists, in four games since returning from injury. "But coming in to everyone playing so well, everyone's commitment and everyone doing a great job out there, I think it makes it easier for anyone coming back.

"A game like that... you just have to make sure you keep getting goals. It's hard to describe sometimes. We just kept scoring. We scored some timely goals after they got back and evened it up a few times."

But the Jets had no answer. Even if Claude Noel had enjoyed the last change, how do you counter a lineup that features Malkin, Jordan Staal and Crosby down the middle?

"When you've got those kind of bullets as a coach, you've got options," he said. "It's difficult, but even if you get matchups you've got Staal at centre, you've got Malkin at centre, you've got Crosby at centre. I mean, who do you want to throw out there that's going to shut those guys down? Those are tough guys to shut down. That's why they're almost the No. 1 team in the league and that's why they're favoured going into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Even if you match them up, they've got a lot of things they throw at you."

No kidding. Neal had the second hat trick of his career, Malkin scored twice and had five points while Tyler Kennedy -- suddenly looking like a sniper on a line with Crosby -- added his seventh and eighth of the season. Get this: 11 different Penguins finished the night with at least one point.

"You can put (Crosby) on the wing, you can put him at centre, you can put him anywhere," Noel said. "He's an energized guy. I'm sure he's enthused to get back and play his first home game in awhile. What are you going to do?

"They're good players, they're world-class players these guys. Until we either mature and get better and get the ability to shut some of them down -- which is tough -- they're tough guys to handle."

-- BOGO BASH: It's an occasionally-violent game played by some very large men. And for that, Zach Bogosian will make no apologies.

The Winnipeg Jet defenceman escaped further discipline from the NHL on Monday following his crushing hit on Andreas Nodl in the second period of Sunday's loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Bogosian received a major for charging and a game misconduct as fans and media alike debated whether he left his feet to deliver the hit.

Earlier this season he also received a warning for a high hit on Cody Eakin of Washington.

But there's also this: Bogosian is 6-2, weighs 215 pounds and can really motor. And that's a bad combination for anyone else in an opposing uniform.

"I'm going to play the way I play. I play hard, I finish my checks," said Bogosian Tuesday, the first time he has spoken since the hit Sunday night.

"Any time there's a hit like that and everyone is talking about it around the league I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a little nervous (about possible further discipline). I thought that I didn't jump and that my momentum carried me up when I was going at full speed. Any time you have a collision like that you're bound to go up in the air. Hopefully, he's OK. I feel for him."

-- SID'S TWO CENTS: Crosby was asked Tuesday if he thought the chants by Jets fans -- serenading Alex Ovechkin with "Crosby's better" and Eric Staal with "Jordan's better" -- made them more clever than fans in Philly.

"Oh, I think they're both trying to help their team and get on the opposing players," said Crosby, smiling but choosing his words carefully. "I'm not going to sit here and critique somebody's heckling ability. I think the main thing is they are pretty passionate fans. I watched some of the Carolina game and they were saying Jordan was better... if anything that probably motivated Eric a little bit and he ended up having a good game. You never know how that's going to work out. They're trying to do their part, their passionate fans and that's what you expect on the road."

-- AND STILL MORE SID: Here's Crosby's take on the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg -- while watching from afar:"It's been awesome. I haven't played there, but I watched all the games on TV and it's an awesome atmosphere every time I've watched. They're really passionate and the team has played well, too. It's been a real success."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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