RALEIGH, N.C. -- The hottest-selling souvenir among Penguins fans in Pittsburgh is a black T-shirt with the images of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby plastered on the front, accompanied by the words "Two-Headed Monster."
Last night, the combination of No. 71 and No. 87 once again turned this Eastern Conference final into a horror show for the Hurricanes.
The Penguins' dynamic duo has combined for 14 points in the first three games of this series, including nine by Malkin, the biggest reason the Penguins are one win from a return visit to the Stanley Cup final.
With Malkin leading the charge with a pair of goals and an assist last night, the Penguins took a commanding 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series with a 6-2 victory over the 'Canes at the RBC Center.
The Penguins, who also got goals from Crosby, Ruslan Fedotenko and Craig Adams, can finish off the 'Canes Tuesday night in Raleigh.
"We have a really good team and I think we really want to play in the final," said Malkin, who has reeled off six consecutive multi-point games.
A year ago, the Pens watched as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in six games, hoisting hockey's Holy Grail at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena.
It's becoming clear the gut-wrenching experience of seeing that happen on home ice has made the Penguins hungrier than ever.
"I don't think we're looking too far ahead, really," Crosby said. "We're still not there yet."
Maybe not. But they are certainly getting close.
Matt Cullen and Sergei Samsonov replied last night for the Hurricanes, who have been outshot in every game in this series.
'BIG' GOALS FROM STARS
The Penguins took command in this game when Crosby and Malkin scored goals in the final minute of the first, snapping a 1-1 tie and allowing the visitors to go to the dressing room for the intermission with a 3-1 lead.
"Those were big," Crosby said. "It allowed us to quickly get the lead. And we didn't just accept the one-goal lead. We managed to stretch it into two."
The 'Canes welcomed Tuomo Ruutu back into the lineup. The feisty forward had been out since the early stages of Game 1 when he became entangled with Penguins defenceman Mark Eaton, a play the 'Canes thought was a slew foot.
Whatever the case, even Ruutu's return was not enough to offset Malkin's magic.
The bad blood many thought would carry over from the end of Game 2 never really materialized.
Tempers flared at the end of that game, with the 'Canes' Ryan Bayda receiving a match penalty for an intentional attempt to injure, an infraction that carried a one-game suspension pending league review. The incident occurred when he cross-checked Pens defenceman Kris Letang in the teeth with less than two minutes to go, sparking a melee that featured the Pens' Miro Satan pounding on the 'Canes' Patrick Eaves.
After examining the evidence, the league decided Bayda did not commit an act worthy of suspension, allowing him to escape with a $2,500 fine.
"Plays like that, scrums after the whistle, they happen all the time," said Bayda, speaking publicly for the first time since the incident.
"There are lots of things that go on and the ref, I guess, decided to give me the match. It's not in my character to go out looking for that and try to cross-check someone in the face."
'HAWKS PROMISE REVENGE: PAGE S2
(Pittsburgh leads series 3-0)