Mark Recchi scores hat trick to help Penguins rout Maple Leafs 8-2

Evgeni Malkin had five assists, Sergei Gonchar had three assists and Jarkko Ruutu scored on a penalty shot goal for the Penguins, who were 5-for-9 on the power play.

Recchi, who also added an assist, recorded the seventh hat trick of his career in a span of 16:57, starting late in the first period. His most recent was March 4 against Carolina, where he was traded five days later before re-signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in the off-season.

The Penguins enter the all-star break 3-0-1 in their last four game and in a three-way tie for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto’s Jeff O’Neill scored the first goal 3:19 into the game on a power play.

But from there it was all Pittsburgh as Jordan Staal scored the first of seven straight goals 1:31 later. He tipped in a pass from Malkin while going hard to the net. Malkin has five goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak.

The Penguins took a 2-1 lead with 11:30 left in the first on Ruutu’s penalty shot.

Ruutu, who hadn’t scored since the season opener, was pulled off his skates by Carlo Colaiacovo on a breakaway against Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft. On the penalty shot, Ruutu faked a forehand shot to freeze Raycroft before tucking the puck into the net with the backhand.

Recchi made it 3-1 with 2:32 to play in the opening period when Ryan Whitney’s centring pass deflected off his skate and into the net.

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Recchi’s second of the game and 13th of the season came midway through the second off a pass from Crosby. His third came at 14:25 of the second from Crosby and Gonchar. That was Recchi’s 498th career goal and his 1,306th point in his 1,302nd NHL game.

Crosby added a 5-on-3 goal 4:02 into the third against backup goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin, an ex-Penguin, and Michel Ouellet added a power-play goal with 8:52 to play.

Brendan Bell scored a power-play goal for Toronto with 6:16 to play before Ryan Malone – off a pass from Malkin – scored his seventh 1:01 later.

The Penguins matched their season-high in goals – done twice against Philadelphia – and the six-goal margin of victory matches the 8-2 Pittsburgh win over the Flyers Oct. 28.

Notes: Pittsburgh is 3-for-4 on penalty shots this season. RW Nils Ekman scored Dec. 7 against the Rangers, Staal converted one Oct. 21 versus Columbus and Staal’s attempt was saved by the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist Nov. 25. … Ouellet has a five-game point streak, Recchi has a four-game point streak and Whitney has an assist in each of his last five contests. … Toronto had won seven in a row in Pittsburgh until a 4-1 defeat here Dec. 29.