By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 26, 2012
Pittsburgh Penguins' Pascal Dupuis celebrates his second period goal with teammate Sidney Crosby during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh Sunday, March 25, 2012. (AP)
Pascal Dupuis slid in quite nicely Sunday night as the No. 2 star between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the Penguins' 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils.
Three of a kind, you know?
"C'mon, you're pushing it now," Dupuis said, grinning. "You're really pushing it."
Not as much as you might think.
OK, so the woman who took part in the Penguins' scoreboard version of "Wheel of Fortune" early in the game couldn't come up with "Dupuis" even though she was spotted "Super Duper Pascal ... "
To most other Penguins fans, though, Dupuis is becoming something of a household name.
"I'm not going to lie to you, this is mentally fun," Dupuis said. "I've never come close to a streak like this."
Dupuis scored the winning goal against the Devils late in the second period, cruising down the slot, taking a pass from Crosby and burying the wrist shot. It was his eighth winning goal of the season. To put that in perspective, Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, who has an NHL-best 52 goals, has 10 winners. Malkin has nine winners among his 46 goals.
"Eight game-winning goals are a career, let alone one season," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
The goal stretched Dupuis' point-scoring streak to 10 games (8 goals, 5 assists). A little perspective again: That matches Jordan Staal for the Penguins' longest streak of the season. Only five players in the league have longer streaks, led by Carolina's Eric Staal and the New York Islanders' John Tavares with 12.
The goal also extended Dupuis' career single-season-best total to 23. An assist later on a Crosby goal gave him 50 points for the first time. It's a remarkable total because he generally gets almost no power-play time. The Penguins are 20-1-1 when he scores a goal and 34-5-1 when he has a point.
Dupuis has to be the Penguins' MVP, right?
Don't be silly.
I'm talking most versatile player.
The man can play on anywhere from the first to the fourth line.
"Hopefully, not too much of the fourth," Dupuis said, grinning again.
Dupuis played on Crosby's line with Chris Kunitz in the 2010-11 season before Crosby was hurt and helped Crosby produce a staggering 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games. This season, Dupuis has spent much of his time on Jordan Staal's line with Steve Sullivan. With Sullivan out with an injury Sunday night, Dupuis played mostly with Crosby and Tyler Kennedy.
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Ron Cook: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.