PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored this many goals so early in a season. The goal that doesn’t count meant the most for the Penguins on a night they nearly gave away another game after leading late.
Crosby had a goal and three assists and Pittsburgh came back after giving up three leads to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 in a shootout on Friday night.
With Pittsburgh going first, Kris Letang and Crosby each put the puck past Justin Peters in the shootout. Jeff Skinner and Jussi Jokinen, who had two tying goals, failed against Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.
Jokinen is 26-of-52 in shootouts, the most attempts of any player, but is 0-for-2 this season.
“It was a little more open than usual, a few more mistakes than usual, but it’s a long season and you’ve got to worry about playing well,” said Crosby, who scored his 14th goal. “If you do, the points will come, but it’s always nice to have a big night.”
He’s having a lot of them lately, with eight goals and 10 assists in eight games. With 14 goals, Crosby has three more goals than he’s ever had through 21 games. He had 10 in four of the last five seasons.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma frequently played Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same line, and the strategy worked as Malkin added three assists. On his second assist, Malkin became the 12th Penguins player with at least 400 points in his career.
Chris Kunitz scored twice for Pittsburgh, which won four times during a five-game stretch in which it collected nine points.
The Penguins led 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, but Carolina answered each time. Jokinen, who also had a four-point night, tied it 4-4 with his second of the game, a hard wrist shot from the right circle with 52 seconds left in regulation.
For the Penguins, that goal brought back bad memories of a 3-2 shootout loss Monday to the Rangers in which they led 2-1 with 90 seconds remaining.
“It was tough to let them back in the game again, like we did with the Rangers,” said Fleury, who made 30 saves. “We definitely don’t want that to happen too often, but in the end we got two points and we got the win, and that’s what’s good about it.”
Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead at 9:19 of the third with a power-play goal on a shot that Peters initially covered with his leg pad before it trickled across the goal line. The goal was awarded upon video review.
“There were some strange plays, some crazy plays, lots of energy and lots of excitement—and some strange calls,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “I’m pretty sure he (the referee) was right, because he had it at no goal.”
Crosby said, “It was really close, it happened fast, but I thought I saw it over the line before he blew his whistle.”
Crosby had put Pittsburgh ahead 3-2 in the second but Jokinen, who came in with two goals this season, tied it three minutes later.
“We battled back three times after being down, and that showed lots of character for our team,” Jokinen said.
Tyler Kennedy also scored for Pittsburgh, while Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina. The Hurricanes lost their third in four games.
Sutter scored on Carolina’s first shot 42 seconds in. It was the third time Fleury has allowed a goal on the first shot he faced.
The Hurricanes lost for the first time in the eight games that they’ve scored first.
NOTES: Carolina’s Eric Staal had an assist after getting five points Wednesday during a 7-1 victory over Ottawa. … Carolina’s penalty-killing unit has allowed seven goals in its opponents’ last 17 power plays. Pittsburgh had scored four goals in its previous 55 power plays before Kunitz scored four seconds before Jokinen’s delay of game penalty expired. … Carolina has been outscored 28-19 in the third period. … Pittsburgh has won twice in three nights at the Consol Energy Center after going 3-5-1 in its first nine games there. … Carolina D Ian White made his debut after being acquired Wednesday in a trade with Calgary. … Peters, the backup to Cam Ward, hasn’t won since beating Pittsburgh on March 20.