PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby had a milestone night – three times over.
Crosby had his 100th career NHL goal and his 200th assist to surpass the 300-point plateau in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Playing on a line with fellow young star Evgeni Malkin for the first time during an entire game this season, the 21-year-old Crosby had a goal and three assists to give him 100 goals and 202 assists for 302 points in 219 career games.
“(Milestones) are nice,” Crosby said. “It’s not what you play for, but they’re great accomplishments.”
Crosby doubled his season output through five games. He had no goals and only four assists coming in to the contest.
“I don’t expect four-point nights, but I definitely wanted to score,” he said. “I felt like I was doing some good things, but the puck just wasn’t going in.”
Malkin assisted on all four Penguins goals to give him 201 points in 166 NHL games.
Pascal Dupuis, Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora also had goals for Pittsburgh.
“(Crosby) is the best player in the league,” said Dupuis, a linemate. “It’s always good to play with a guy like that.”
Nik Antropov scored for Toronto, which has only nine goals in five games (1-2-2). The Maple Leafs lost 1-0 in a shootout at the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Crosby’s first goal of the season came 12:15 into the third period. He carried the puck into the zone and eluded diving goalie Curtis Joseph, who was trying to poke the puck away from Crosby as he skated through the right circle.
Maple Leafs defenceman Jonas Frogren dived to hit the puck to the boards behind and to the right of the net. Crosby got the puck back and fired a backhander toward the slot, banking the shot off of Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski, who was skating hard to the net.
“I was just throwing it out front,” Crosby said. “Throw it at the net, and good things happen. I got a great bounce.”
“He obviously had a little luck on his goal,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “He made two good plays on the power play. … We just didn’t execute very well.”
Antropov opened the scoring 5:35 into the game, but Pittsburgh tied it 51 seconds later when Dupuis took a rebound of Crosby’s shot while in the slot and sent it between Joseph’s legs for his second goal in three games.
That was Crosby’s 200th assist, but his 300th point showed off his playmaking skills. During a Penguins power play 7:55 into the second period, Crosby took the puck along the right-wing boards, skated into the circle and spotted Satan through traffic.
Crosby sent a pass between the legs of rookie defenceman Luke Schenn onto the tape of Satan’s stick. Standing wide open to the left of Joseph, Satan redirected the puck in for his third goal.
“Sidney was on tonight and kind of sunk us,” Joseph said. “He’s got great speed, and obviously his slap-passes are pretty accurate. He’s in a good spot. Usually the best players keep you guessing, and he certainly does that out there.”
Crosby’s assist on Sykora’s goal came in similar fashion and closed the scoring with 6:24 to play. Sykora scored his first of the season by taking a cross-slot pass and one-timing a shot into an open net.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 of 27 shots for Pittsburgh, which had blown a 3-0 lead to Washington during its previous game Thursday.
After that defeat and with the team’s two stars – Crosby and Malkin – having posted only 10 combined points in five games, Penguins coach Michel Therrien put the two centres together on a line. It is a move he has traditionally only made in desperate situations.
“They certainly had a great game,” Therrien said. “They responded exactly the way we expected. They played well together. They responded on the ice the right way.”
Notes: Antropov had a goal disallowed because he kicked the puck in late in the third. … The Penguins had killed 17 straight penalties until Antropov’s goal. … Toronto’s Jason Blake had an assist to give him 42 points in 43 career games against Pittsburgh. He has 10 more points against the Penguins than any other team.