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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Second-period report: Crosby, Malkin again putting on a clinic

PITTSBURGH -- So, how good is this game?

As great as the Washington/Pittsburgh series was, this one has reached fever pitch much earlier than I thought it might. I know we keep talking about the Carolina Hurricanes' resiliency, but what about the Pens? They just keep coming.

And once again, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are putting on a clinic. Both have a goal and an assist, and in the second, both got in on a big Maxime Talbot goal that tied the game at 3. Crosby started the play with a quick pass from deep in the Pens' zone to Malkin at center, and as he was being checked, Malkin simply deflected a pass to Talbot, who broke in and blasted one high over Cam Ward's shoulder to erase the one-goal deficit.

The Canes are fortunate they aren't trailing by more than one goal as the Penguins outshot them 16-6 in the second. During one power play, they had constant pressure in the Canes' zone. Of course, that's the good thing for the Canes; they were outscored 2-0 in the period, but are still only one shot away from tying this game up. And we know they can.

We would be remiss, however, if we didn't note it was Chris Kunitz who gave the Pens their 4-3 lead with 7.3 seconds left in the period. The man who it appeared might never score again, anywhere, anytime, made a great fake coming off the boards and opened up just enough space to unleash a hellacious wrist shot that also beat Ward high. Kunitz had not scored a playoff goal since May 11, 2007, when he was with the Anaheim Ducks and he played against Detroit in the Western Conference finals. So you have to figure if Kunitz scored, the hockey gods may once again be smiling on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

More from me after the game!