Crosby has first hat trick, Malkin stays hot as Pens roll

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Sidney Crosby gave the crabby Philadelphia

fans another athlete to jeer.

Crosby started hearing them in pregame warmups. They only got

louder and more voracious with each goal.

All three of them.

Crosby had his first career hat trick, Maxime Talbot scored two

goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 8-2

Saturday night for their fourth straight win.

"It's special. It's always nice, first time anything in the

NHL," Crosby said. "You never try to think about it too much, but

it's always a nice milestone to have to get your first hat trick."

Evgeni Malkin, Mark Recchi and Dominic Moore also scored goals

for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury was simply sensational in goal,

recording 31 saves to help the Penguins extend their longest

winning streak in more than two years. It's their first four-game

winning streak since March 6-11, 2004.

After an emotional shootout win over Atlanta on Thursday, the

Flyers reverted to the same woeful ways that got Ken Hitchcock

fired this week. John Stevens lost for the first time as an NHL

coach and Philadelphia dropped to an Atlantic Division-worst 2-7-1.

Mike Knuble and Stefan Ruzicka scored for the Flyers.

Flyers chairman Ed Snider said he knew he had to fire Hitchcock

after a 9-1 loss at Buffalo. The Flyers saved this blowout for the

grumpy home crowd.

Philadelphia's locker room was closed for nearly 20 minutes

after the game for a team meeting.

"Bad loss. We fell apart again. This can't happen again," team

captain Peter Forsberg said, rubbing his hands over his face.

Of course, Pittsburgh's new generation of stars had plenty do

with the lopsided score.

Crosby added another first to his growing list of achievements,

scoring once in the first and twice in the second for his first

three-goal effort in 90 career games.

His first goal was the sweetest and tied it at 1. Streaking down

the right side, he made a sharp cross-ice pass to Ryan Whitney, who

quickly fed the puck back to Crosby and he knocked it past Antero


Crosby made it a rout in the second, putting in a rebound only

18 seconds after Talbot scored his second goal to make it 5-1.

Crosby's second goal also knocked Niittymaki out of the game,

after stopping only five of nine shots. The Penguins scored on

their first two shots of the game.

Robert Esche, who was in the net for every goal in that 9-1 loss

to the Sabres, didn't fare much better. Crosby swiped the puck away

from Derian Hatcher and scored his sixth goal of the season.

"We know it's early, but we've worked for it hard," Crosby

said. "We don't want to look after nine games and think we're done

improving. We have to make sure we keep progressing and keep

getting better."

Malkin, who missed the Penguins' first four games with a

dislocated left shoulder, scored in his fifth straight game when

the puck banged off Esche's pads and trickled through his legs for

a power-play goal and a 6-1 lead.

"He's been a good rookie so far," coach Michel Therrien said.

"Right now, he seems to be having pretty good chemistry with

Crosby out there. He's one of those special players."

That early-game Flyers lead was long forgotten by then.

"We have to take ownership of this situation," Stevens said.

"It seems like we're sitting idle waiting for someone next to us

to make a difference. We all have to take responsibility."

The Penguins took the lead for good midway through the first

when bumbling Flyers teammates Forsberg and Simon Gagne collided on

the blue line, jarring the puck loose. Talbot grabbed the loose

puck, whizzed through the neutral zone and knocked it past

Niittymaki for an uncontested short-handed goal.

Talbot's second goal early in the second period was nearly as

easy, backing down defenseman Denis Gauthier and scoring to make it


Recchi and Moore both scored in the third.Game notes
At least the Flyers were able to take their frustration out

on the Penguins with their fists instead of their sticks. The game

had several brief stoppages for fighting, including Flyers LW Ben

Eager getting a 10 minute game-misconduct penalty. ... Talbot was

recalled earlier this week. ... Fleury started for the ninth

straight game.