Crosby scored on a backhand shot as he fell to the ice and added three assists, and Mark Recchi also had a goal and three assist, to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
With the Penguins holding a two-goal lead early in the third, Crosby gained control of the puck near the inside of the edge of the right circle but tripped backward over Fredrik Sjostrom’s stick. As he left his skates, Crosby muscled a backhand shot over goalie Mikael Tellqvist to make it 5-2.
“I tried to pull the puck in and fell back,” Crosby said. “I just tried to get a shot off. I just tried to stay with it. You can’t go out there and try to do things like that. You just have to react. I was lucky enough to get my stick there.”
Pittsburgh coach Michel Terrien added, “the guys on the bench couldn’t believe it. That was another highlight goal.”
The goal was Crosby’s second point from a more-or-less horizontal position. He left his skates to lunge forward from behind the net and pass the puck to Ryan Malone in front of the crease for the game’s first goal 24 seconds in.
Crosby said having such a performance in front of Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky was an added bonus.
“It’s a unique experience for all of us,” Crosby said. “We grew up watching him. I don’t think you come up here with something to prove but it’s a unique experience to play against a team coached by one of the best players of all time.”
Gretzky said Crosby is an “exceptional hockey player and a great athlete.”
“You can’t stop people making comparisons,” Gretzky said. “That’s always going to be there and that’s the good thing about the game. I was telling people today that it’s pretty amazing how quickly the time goes. Here he is, he’s 19 and he’s going to be compared to guys for a few years. Before you turn around a new guy comes in and everybody says he’s the new Crosby. It definitely happens quickly.”
Maxime Talbot, Ryan Whitney, Jarkko Ruutu, and Ronald Petrovicky also scored, and Sergei Gonchar added a pair assists for the Penguins, who have won five of six.
Shane Doan and Steve Reinprecht scored for the Coyotes, who have lost five of eight since winning a season-best seven straight.
Crosby helped the Penguins take the lead for good midway through the second period. He wound up to shoot the puck from the outside edge of the right faceoff circle but instead passed to Whitney, who one-timed the puck past Mikael Tellqvist from the bottom of the left circle to break a 2-2 tie.
Ruutu extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-2 at 17:37 of the second when he slid the puck between Tellqvist’s pads from the left circle.
Just 15 seconds after Crosby gave Pittsburgh the three-goal lead, Petrovicky scored to put Pittsburgh ahead 6-2. Recchi added a power-play goal at 12:16 to cap the scoring with Crosby earning his third assist.
After Malone’s early goal, Doan tied the score 1-1 at 11:36 of the first when he took a pass through the crease from Ladislav Nagy and beat Jocelyn Thibault with Phoenix on a 5-on-3 power-play.
Talbot put the Penguins ahead 2-1 on a blast from the point at 13:32 of the first. Reinprecht tied the score at 2 at 10:37 of the second period on a wrist shot off a scrum in front of the net.
“When you tie the game up at 2-2 you feel you’re right in the game,” Doan said. “Then they just beat us. They beat us all night.”
Notes: Recchi has six goals in his last three games and 13 points (seven goals, six assists) during his current six-game points streak. … Crosby also has a six-game points streak, with four goals and nine assists in that stretch. … Crosby and the Penguins did what even the Detroit Red Wings couldn’t do this season – sell out Jobing.com Arena. A standing-room crowd of 18,495 was on hand to see Crosby’s lone visit to the Valley during the current three-year scheduling cycle. … Pittsburgh and Phoenix were playing for the first time since February 25, 2004, when the Penguins won 4-3 in overtime. … Doan moved within one goal of Doug Smail for fifth place on the Coyotes’ career list with 188. He has 10 goals and nine assists in his last 15 games.