PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby scored in regulation and the shootout and the Penguins overcame Jimmy Howard’s second successive 46-save game to beat the Red Wings 2-1 on Sunday in the rivals’ first game since Pittsburgh won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit.
Daniel Cleary’s deflection of Brad Stuart’s slap shot midway through the third period sent the game to overtime, where Pittsburgh survived playing short-handed for the final 1:21. Crosby and Malkin then scored against Howard in the shootout while both Red Wings shooters – Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams – failed against Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 23 saves.
The Penguins are 7-0 in shootouts, while Detroit is 4-6.
Crosby beat Howard with a backhander, just as he did late in the first period for Pittsburgh’s only goal of regulation. Despite losing, Howard was strong throughout, following up his 46-save performance during a 4-2 win against Nashville on Friday with an even better performance as Detroit was in position to win despite being outshot 47-24.
During the shootout, Crosby pushed the puck ahead of him as he skated out of the neutral zone before switching to his backhand at the last possible moment. Malkin appeared to be skating in slow motion as he skated in against Howard before sneaking the puck past the goalie following a succession of fakes and feints.
Pittsburgh might have won it by holding on as Detroit skated with a 4-on-3 advantage late in overtime after Sergei Gonchar was called for hooking during Valtteri Filppula’s failed breakaway. Fleury made a strong save on Henrik Zetterberg’s drive from the right circle and Nicklas Lidstrom’s slap shot was deflected during the final 10 seconds.
Long before that, Crosby took Alex Goligoski’s perfectly placed cross-ice pass near the top of the crease and beat Howard with a backhander at 16:46 of the second for the game’s first goal.
Crosby, who became the youngest captain to raise the Stanley Cup when the Penguins won Game 7 in Detroit, has 34 goals with one-third of the season remaining and could easily surpass his current career high of 39 goals as an 18-year-old rookie in 2005-06.
Crosby had only two goals in his previous 12 games against Detroit, which had won three of its last four and six of its last eight against Pittsburgh during the regular season but is currently scrambling to make the Western Conference finals for the 19th straight season.
Fleury was trying for his first shutout of the season until Cleary deflected an uncovered Brad Stuart slap shot from the right point at 11:10 of the third. Crosby appeared to be late in getting back to defend against Stuart’s line-drive shot as Cleary screened Fleury in front.
Howard was excellent throughout, but got a little help with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining when Jordan Staal couldn’t put the puck into an open net, then put a deflected shot off the crossbar a few seconds later. Staal was wide again with 3:15 to go and the left side of the net open.
NOTES: Penguins F Max Talbot (groin), who scored both Pittsburgh goals in Game 7, sat out for the fourth time in five games. … Malkin got the second assist on the Crosby goal and has six goals and six assists in 12 games. … Detroit opened a five-game road trip. … Pittsburgh had allowed at least four goals in each of its previous four home games. … Pittsburgh was shut out in each of its last two regular season home games against Detroit; Crosby’s goal was the Penguins’ first at home against Detroit during the season since Rico Fata’s on Oct. 18, 2003.