PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins found a way to win when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin extended their point scoring streaks.
Malkin had two assists to extend his scoring streak to 12 games and Crosby assisted on the winning goal to get points for the 18th straight game as the Penguins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
“We want to contribute and it’s always nice to win, so if you can do that and win, it’s great,” Crosby said. “But for us, we have a job to produce. We try to do it as consistently as possible. We’re getting breaks, too. We’re getting some bounces, and all you can do is hope they keep coming. It’s nice to snap (the losing streak). It’s never a good feeling to lose.”
Georges Laraque scored for the first time in 40 games, Sergei Gonchar had a goal and an assist and Petr Sykora also scored for the Penguins, who had lost six of seven and also snapped a four-game losing streak at Mellon Arena to climb out of last place in the Atlantic Division.
“Tonight’s win made a lot of people feel good,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.
Mike Comrie and Josef Vasicek scored for New York.
Malkin has five goals and 14 assists during his streak, and Crosby assisted on Laraque’s winning goal late in the second period to give him 10 goals and 18 assists during his. The streak is the longest of Crosby’s career and longest in the NHL this season after Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg had a 17-game streak snapped Tuesday.
As is becoming customary this season, the Penguins allowed the first goal at home when Comrie scored his sixth by deflecting a Brendan Witt shot from the point past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury while standing in front of the net with 5:43 to play in the first period.
Pittsburgh tied the game four minutes later while on a 4-on-4 when Gonchar blasted a slap shot from the point past goalie Rick DiPietro. Malkin earned the primary assist on the goal, Gonchar’s fifth.
“We made some mistakes, I don’t think that was our best effort, but we played well,” DiPietro said. “I thought we had some good chances; they capitalized one more time than we did and got the win. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got another one tomorrow.”
The Penguins took a 2-1 lead with a 5-on-3 goal 58 seconds into the second period after Malkin’s shot from an extreme left angle left the puck wedged between DiPietro’s skate and the post. Sykora was able to get his stick in to slam the puck in for his eighth of the season.
Vasicek tied it for New York 8:51 into the second when he corralled a Bruno Gervais wrist shot from the point before it got to Fleury and then tucked it in behind him for his sixth of the season.
“I thought we had this game tonight, and we kind of let it get away,” Islanders defenceman Bryan Berard said. “I think we just kind of need to forget about this game.”
Laraque scored the winner with 3:15 to play in the second. While skating down the slot, the enforcer was fed with a perfect pass from Crosby and wristed a shot high under the crossbar to DiPietro’s glove side for his first as a Penguin since being acquired from Phoenix in a February trade.
“I think that’s the longest drought of my career I haven’t scored like that,” Laraque said. “And I didn’t know if it was gonna happen because every game I came so close so many times, but getting close doesn’t show in the score book.”
Crosby, who has scored in every game this season since being shut out in the opener, has 250 career points – 33 against the Islanders, most of any opponent.
Fleury, a former No. 1 overall pick, won for the first time since Oct. 23 and was playing for only the fourth time this month and first time at Mellon Arena in three weeks as Therrien was playing backup Dany Sabourin more frequently.
“I was a little nervous at the beginning,” Fleury said. “I hadn’t been playing in Pittsburgh for a while, so I was a little excited. But things went well, the guys got some goals, we got the lead, so that worked to relax me.
“It’s been a little tough lately, so to be back here in Pittsburgh and get the win is great. And Georges scored, so overall it was a real good night.”
Notes: The start of the game was delayed by about 10 minutes for a ceremony honouring former Penguins D Paul Coffey as he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. … Penguins veterans RW Mark Recchi and D Darryl Sydor were both healthy scratches for the first time this season. … Former Penguins stars Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr never had a concurrent point streak of more than 11 games. Their 11-game streak was in 1995. … The Islanders entered the game tied for the best road power play in the NHL at 33.3 per cent, but had only two chances with the extra man, neither successful.