PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A missed penalty shot prevented Sidney Crosby from accomplishing a junior version of Mario Lemieux’s most remarkable regular-season scoring feat.
Crosby scored three goals, including the 200th of his career, after Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped his penalty shot and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their sixth in a row, 4-1 on Saturday behind backup goalie Brent Johnson.
The Penguins captain already had two goals, one on a power play, before scoring short-handed into an empty net with 37 seconds remaining. If he had converted the penalty shot he missed 4:14 into the game, Crosby would have scored four goals with every possible variation: even-strength, power play, short-handed, penalty shot and empty net.
Lemieux is the only NHL player to score five goals all five ways, on Dec. 31, 1988, against New Jersey.
“Oh, geez, don’t tell me that,” Crosby said. “That’s one thing I never thought would ever be beat. To know I came that close, that hurts, but it was fun and, obviously, I would have liked to have put that one in.”
Crosby understands his accomplishment wouldn’t have been as impressive as Lemieux’s. Still, as teammate Alex Goligoski said, “He’s to the point where’s he’s still doing things (we haven’t seen).”
“I’ve seen him for three years and I’m still like, ‘Oh, my gosh,'” Goligoski said. “It’s pretty unbelievable.”
Crosby made it 2-0 in the second period after Chris Kunitz gathered his own rebound and slid it to an open Crosby at the side of the net. Crosby got No. 200 midway through the third when Paul Martin’s shot from above the circles deflected off the toe of Crosby’s stick on a power play. Crosby has 12 goals and 13 assists during a 12-game scoring streak.
The 23-year-old completed his sixth regular-season hat trick and first this season by scoring into an empty net during a Flames power play in which Calgary created a two-man advantage by pulling Kiprusoff.
Crosby has 18 goals in 25 games after tying Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead with 51 last season.
“I don’t have a number in mind. You kind of have a certain way you want to play and hope that results in goals,” Crosby said. “You have to have an idea of what you need to do to be successful.”
Something’s working. Crosby’s run coincides with the Penguins’ longest winning streak since they won seven in a row in October 2009, four months after they won the Stanley Cup.
“An elite-level player like him has great creativity in his game and a tremendous skill set,” Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. “It’s because of his work ethic, and how hard he plays every shift.”
Kiprusoff stopped 39 shots—24 in the first, the most the Penguins have had in a period since their 25 in the first period against San Jose on March 6, 1992. His best save was a glove-hand stop on Crosby’s backhander on the penalty shot awarded when Brendan Morrison hooked Crosby.
“He made some fakes there and I was able to put my glove there,” Kiprusoff said. “He’s a pretty skilled guy so it feels good to stop him.”
Crosby is 0 for 3 on career penalty shots.
The Penguins finally scored on Arron Asham’s slap shot from the right circle at 6:26 of the second off Kris Letang’s rebound. Letang had three assists and Brooks Orpik had two.
Johnson made 30 saves during his first start since Nov. 10 against Boston, but lost his shutout when Rene Bourque scored his 11th goal and second in three games at 13:03 of the third.
Johnson started after Marc-Andre Fleury made 43 saves during a 2-1 victory over Ottawa on Friday.
The Flames ended a 1-2-2 road trip in which their only victory was a 3-2 overtime win Friday in Philadelphia. They have scored six goals in four games.
Notes:Calgary was 0 for 4 on the power play. Pittsburgh has killed all 27 opposition power plays over the last eight games. … Pittsburgh is 8-0-1 in its last nine and has won four in a row at the Consol Energy Center, where it is 7-5-1 after losing its first three. … Calgary has lost six of its last seven on the road and eight of its last nine in Pittsburgh. .. Crosby’s 201 goals trail only Alex Ovechkin (279), Ilya Kovalchuk (235) and Dany Heatley (228) since Crosby entered the league in 2005. … Crosby’s empty-net goal was only his fifth in six seasons. Lemieux had 33 such goals.