OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators earned a win over the NHL’s top team, even if they couldn’t hold off its top player.
“It was a very good win and we showed that we are still a very good team,” said Erik Karlsson, who scored two goals and an assist in the Senators 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
“(Brian Elliott) showed he’s here to stay, our defence showed we can shut down some really good players and if you get guys working hard in front of the net you just have to get the puck there.”
Elliott made 44 saves but was unable to keep Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet, as the Penguins captain extended his point-scoring streak to 24 games with a goal in the third period.
Crosby’s streak is the longest streak in the NHL since the 1992-93 season when Mats Sundin, then of the Quebec Nordiques, had points in 30 straight games.
Mike Fisher had the other goal for the Senators (16-17-4), who won back-to-back games for the first time since early November.
The Penguins (24-11-2) lost for just the third time in their past 18 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury faced 24 shots and allowed more than two goals for just the fourth time in his past 18 starts.
Fleury’s biggest save of the night came midway through the third period when he gloved a backhand attempt from Nick Foligno on a penalty shot. Foligno appeared to score on a breakaway after being hooked by Brooks Orpik, but the ruling on the ice was no goal and it was upheld by video replay.
Karlsson, initially credited with the first goal, appeared to open the scoring on a power-play goal midway through the first period, but it was later given to Fisher who tipped it in front of Fleury.
Crosby was in the penalty box for that goal, and was about to be whistled down for slashing when Karlsson scored 14 minutes into the period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead.
With Elliott on the bench and the Senators maintaining control of the puck, Karlsson fired a point-shot through a crowd that eluded Fleury.
“Those penalties, I wouldn’t say I agree with them but that happens in hockey. Most guys don’t agree with the penalties they get,” Crosby said.
“It’s pretty clear that we had a horrible start and we paid for that in the end. In the second and third period we had some pretty good chances, but it hurts getting yourself that far behind that early.”
Just 20 seconds into the second while on the power play, Karlsson collected his second goal with another point shot off a face-off win by Jason Spezza.
It was Spezza’s second point of the game before leaving early in the second period after being hit into the boards by Penguins defenceman Kris Letang. Spezza did not return and there was no word on his condition.
The story of the rest of the period was Elliott, who saved his best for last. He stoned Evgeni Malkin in the final minute following a turnover inside the Ottawa zone, then stopped a rebound attempt by Tyler Kennedy.
With just 3:32 to play in the third period, Crosby kicked the puck to his stick at the side of the goal and scored on a backhand that went off the post and in.
“It wasn’t a skill goal but like I said, it just shows what can happen when you go to the net,” Elliott said.
“I’ll take the win any day and I don’t care if he scores on me.”
Notes: Defenceman Chris Phillips played his 900th career game Sunday night and all have been with the Senators. Phillips was the first-overall pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft and played his first game on Oct. 1, 1997 against the Montreal Canadiens. … The Senators recalled goaltender Mike Brodeur from AHL Binghamton for Sunday’s game as Pascal Leclaire missed his third straight with a lower-body injury. … The Penguins were without forwards Jordan Staal (hand), Mike Comrie (hip) and goaltender Brett Johnson (groin). They recalled goaltender John Curry and forward Dustin Jeffrey for the game. … Crosby leads all vote-getters in all-star balloting with nearly 465,000 votes, while Letang is second with more than 342,000.