Crosby scored twice in the third period and the Penguins surged to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. “Sid’s the type of player who can control a game whenever he wants to,” teammate Erik Christensen said. “It’s sick. The way he just turned it on.
“He would come off (the ice) sometimes cursing at himself. But he turned on the switch and had a great third period.”
Christensen added two goals and an assist, and Michel Ouellet had one of each for Pittsburgh, who passed the Islanders and moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference with their second straight win.
Richard Park and Arron Asham scored for New York.
“You just watch (Crosby), and once again he gets two more points,” said Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney, who had an assist. “It seems like that’s kind of what you expect. It’s truly unbelievable to see what he does. I’m sure he made a couple plays he’d like to take back, but then at the end of the night, he has two goals.”
Crosby had no shots and a minus-1 rating and failed to control a couple loose pucks through two periods, but his goals came on rebounds. His power-play tally with 16:32 left off Ouellet’s shot gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead.
Crosby’s second on a rebound of Mark Recchi’s shot with 6:15 left put the game away.
“He found a way to get the big goals for them,” New York coach Ted Nolan said.
Crosby was at the centre of controversy late when, with 33 seconds to play, he was speared in the abdomen by Jason Blake. No penalty was called but Crosby was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor.
Crosby was seen jawing with Blake after the final horn sounded, but downplayed the incident to reporters after the game.
“I wasn’t too happy there, but it’s good to get the win,” Crosby said. “That stuff happens, but it’s better to forget about it and move on.”
Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien wasn’t ready to let it go.
“The spearing at the end of the game is unacceptable to us,” he said. “We’re really upset to see a cheap shot; on top of it, we’re the ones that got penalized on it. I hope the NHL makes the right call (fine or suspension). We are not going to accept our best player getting hurt.”
Christensen scored the game’s first goal 2:32 in with a nifty backhand move from the slot on a pass from Maxime Talbot.
The second period was all New York. Not only did the Islanders kill two 5-on-3 Pittsburgh power plays – totalling 2:24 in the second period – they outscored the Penguins during the disadvantage.
Park scored a rare 3-on-5 goal less than two minutes into the period. With Alexei Yashin and Brendan Witt in the penalty box, Park blocked a shot and skated up ice. He beat Pittsburgh Marc-Andre Fleury to the high stick side to tie it 1-1.
It was the first goal the Islanders had scored while down two men since March 9, 1993, when Benoit Hogue did it against Philadelphia. The Elias Sports Bureau couldn’t find another allowed by the Penguins in the last 20 years.
The Penguins took a 2-1 lead on Ouellet’s power-play goal 11:35 into the period, but Asham beat Fleury to tie it at 2 with 2:16 to play in the second.
New York controlled play for much of the first two periods. After posting six shots during the first 3:54, the Penguins went 18:15 without a shot and totaled only four during the next 39-plus minutes – despite an abundance of power-play time.
“It’s nice we were able to rebound, and you can look at that as a positive, but we also know we’re not going to be able to turn it on and off like that,” Crosby said.
Pittsburgh took over in the third, firing 12 shots and scoring three goals.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had good third-period efforts, coming from behind to get a point or two,” Christensen said. “We have a lot of character, and it comes out when we down and playing desperately. We were lucky to be at 2-2 after the second, so we said, ‘This isn’t good enough. We have to play better.’ Who else to step it up but Sid?”
Notes: The Penguins killed 3:19 of New York power play time midway through the first period after Ryan Malone and Ryan Whitney were penalized for retaliating on Witt for a hit on Crosby. … The crowd of 16,958 was the Penguins’ seventh consecutive sellout. … Viktor Kozlov, who has five points against the Penguins this season, had a five-game point streak snapped. … Islanders D Radek Martinek played his first game since Dec. 27 due to a broken foot.