Pens blank Panthers
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby again picked up the slack with Evgeni Malkin out, getting his 10th career hat trick Sunday and leading the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Florida Panthers 4-0.
Crosby’s natural hat trick came in a span of 11 minutes between the second and the third period, pushing his goal total to an NHL-high 40 and moving him into a tie with Edmonton’s Conner McDavid for the league scoring lead with 80 points. Linemates Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel assisted on all three of Crosby’s goals.
Patric Hornqvist added his 18th of the season for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots for his 44th career shutout, and the Penguins leapfrogged Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division behind Washington.
Florida’s Jaromir Jagr joined Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and Ron Francis as only players in NHL history to play in 1,700 games but the Panthers saw their fading playoff hopes take another hit. Reimer finished with 24 saves but received little help from those in front of him.
Jagr received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at PPG Paints Arena, a rarity in a place where he spent the first 806 games of his career while helping the Penguins to two Stanley Cups as a freewheeling, fabulously mulleted 20-something who remains the second-leading scorer in franchise history behind mentor Mario Lemieux.
A quarter century later, Jagr’s mullet remains. So does the flair. The 45-year-old broke Howe’s record for most points by a player in his 40s when he picked up two assists on Friday against the New York Rangers to give him 269 since his 40th birthday.
Needing a spark to salvage his team’s dwindling prospects of making the playoffs, Jagr instead watched as Crosby did what he always tends to do when Malkin is out: dominate. Malkin missed his second straight game while dealing with what the team is calling a minor upper-body injury.