Sidney Crosby’s goal at 11:44 of the third period Saturday lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 comeback win over the Ottawa Senators to even their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
The 19-year-old phenom quieted a Scotiabank Place crowd of 20,133 that had booed him all game long when he deftly re-directed a Mark Recchi feed at the side of the net, his second goal in as many playoff games.
Game 3 goes Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Jordan Staal, Gary Roberts and Ryan Whitney also scored for the Penguins, who showed determination in coming back twice in the third period to tie a game they had no business being in through 40 minutes.
Chris Kelly, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa, which failed yet again to go up 2-0 in a playoff series, falling to 0-7 after winning the opening game of a series.
The Senators once again dominated on the shot clock, outshooting the guests 37-21, but went only 1-for-9 on the power play. The Penguins were 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
Marc-Andre Fleury was solid in goal for Pittsburgh, displaying none of the Game 1 jitters, and saving the game with 13 seconds lefts when he robbed Mike Fisher right on the door setup. Ottawa goalie Ray Emery, meanwhile, was average at best in stopping 17 of 21 shots.
Whitney quieted a boisterous crowd 3:01 into the game, his power-play blast deflecting off Ottawa defenceman Chris Phillips and past Emery.
The Senators lost fourth-line winger Christoph Schubert to a neck strain midway through the period when he collided at centre ice with Penguins centre Maxime Talbot and fell awkwardly to the ice.
The Penguins got a scare of their own when star centre Evgeni Malkin was sent sprawling to the ice after a borderline hit from Sens winger Peter Schaefer.
The Pittsburgh bench was up in arms again late in the first period when Crosby got punched in the face by Phillips while trying to get around him and there was no call, Crosby letting the referees know of his displeasure.
The Senators came storming out of the gates in the second period, outshooting the Penguins 8-0, the eighth shot a goal by Spezza at 8:28 after the star centre flipped a rebound over Fleury after a dangerous rush by Alfredsson.
The game got nasty again late in the middle period when Colby Armstrong, after being stopped in-alone, crashed violently into Emery, igniting a melee that also involved Crosby.
Armstrong’s brain cramp cost the Penguins dearly as the Senators connected on the ensuing power play at 16:44 on one of the prettiest goals you’ll see, a tic-tac-toe play finished off by Alfredsson.
Obviously, the Penguins didn’t learn their lesson as Jarkko Ruutu took a bone-headed roughing penalty for going after Mike Comrie.
The unravelling Penguins skated off the ice, tails between their legs, having been outshot 19-5 by a Senators team once again dominating in every aspect of play.
But the third period was a different story.
A slashing penalty to Mike Fisher early put Pittsburgh on the power play and Roberts connected on a rebound to tie the game 2-2 at 2:04, the Penguins bench re-energized by the goal.
Pittsburgh nearly went up 3-2 on the very next shift but Wade Redden swiped away a puck dancing on the goal line.
Kelly had the crowd back on its feet when he put Ottawa back up to stay at 6:18, flying into the zone and rifling a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Fleury stick-side.
But Staal, alone in the slot, got that back at 9:34, one-timing a pass in front from Michel Ouellet to tie the game 3-3, setting up Crosby’s heroics a few shifts later.
Notes: Tough guy Georges Laraque sat out Game 2 after playing sparingly in Game 1 for Pittsburgh. Fellow forwards Chris Thorburn and Nils Ekman were also healthy scratches as well as defencemen Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine . . . Forwards Brian McGrattan and Oleg Saprykin and defenceman Lawrence Nycholat were scratches once again for Ottawa.