Crosby scored a power-play goal with 3.3 seconds left, tying a career high with four points, and Pittsburgh pulled out a wild 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Crosby fired a pass from the right-wing boards, while Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr sat in the penalty box, that struck New York defenceman Aaron Ward in front and ricocheted in. Earlier, the 19-year-old phenom set up three goals for Pittsburgh, which scored six times on 22 shots.
He has a long way to go to catch his host Lemieux, who retired last season with 690 goals and 1,723 points. But in only 84 NHL games, Crosby’s totals are 41 and 108.
“It’s nice, but it’s just one game,” Crosby said.
Jagr was left hanging his head while Crosby happily skated across the ice and looked up at the board to see how timely his goal was.
“I knew it was like five seconds,” he said. “The last time I saw it, it was 10, and Rex (forward Mark Recchi) kind of handled it for a while at the top. I just knew I had to get it on net.”
If the pass had gone through, Michel Ouellet was ready to steer it in at the left post.
“I could have picked a better position to not line up and block the pass in front of the goalie,” Ward said. “I should have stepped out to the side.”
“As a defenceman, you don’t want to be the catalyst to their goal.”
The Penguins allowed only two goals and went 1-1 at home to start the season, each a shutout, before winning their first road game. Pittsburgh had an Eastern Conference-low 10 wins away from the Steel City last season.
Jordan Staal, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, and Kris Letang each scored their first NHL goals for Pittsburgh, while Ryan Whitney scored his first two of the season and Ouellet added one.
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed goals to Jagr, Matt Cullen, Adam Hall, Michael Nylander – each scoring their second of the season – and Brendan Shanahan but still made 37 saves against the Rangers, who recorded three goals on 18 shots in the second period.
“I asked our guys to find a way to win,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “It got a little crazy, but we got the last shot and we got the win.”
After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for six goals in the second with Pittsburgh getting three on seven shots.
“We held the majority of the play,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got some work to do as a five-man unit and we’ve got some work to do on the special teams.”
Whitney gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead 1:01 into the third, again with Jagr in the box. Nylander tied it at 6:09 with another power-play goal, this time on a 5-on-3.
Whitney scored again 53 seconds later, but Shanahan redirected a pass from Jagr in front at 11:12 to make it 5-5 with his 602nd goal, 14th-best in NHL history.
Neither team led by more than one goal and each found the touch on the power play. Pittsburgh finished 4-for-9, while New York was 3-for-9.
Before the Rangers’ struggling power play broke out it went from unproductive to detrimental on its fourth opportunity.
Staal broke up Jagr’s pass at the Pittsburgh blue line and outraced defenceman Michal Rozsival up the ice on a breakaway. He made a series of forehand-to-backhand shifts and scored against Henrik Lundqvist 3:23 into the frame.
Jagr made up for his turnover 1:22 later, taking advantage of a four-on-four situation. It took only 1:50 more for Cullen to give New York its first lead of the night, 2-1.
Cullen, a teammate of Staal’s brother Eric last season with the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, rushed the puck through the Penguins zone and squeezed a shot through Fleury’s pads at 6:35.
Letang tied it again with Pittsburgh’s first power-play goal of the season after 11 failed chances. The Penguins gained a five-on-three advantage and needed 20 seconds to make the Rangers pay.
Hall snapped the Rangers’ power-play drought with 4:52 remaining in the period, giving New York their second man-advantage goal in 23 chances and a 3-2 lead.
Ouellet got Pittsburgh even 47 seconds later with his second of the season, another power-play goal.
Notes: Penguins LW Nils Ekman played despite a hamstring injury. … The Rangers selected another Staal brother, defenceman Marc, with the 12th overall pick in the 2005 draft.