The way Sidney Crosby’s owned the New York Islanders, no one could have predicted his greatest scoring run would be wrecked by them.
Crosby’s streak of 25 games with at least one point — tied for the 11th longest in NHL history — was snapped by the Islanders and goalie Rick DiPietro, who stopped the Pittsburgh captain and the rest of the Penguins’ high-powered offense in a 2-1 shootout victory Wednesday night.
”That wasn’t me. It was a complete team effort,” DiPietro said. ”The defensive corps played with a lot of focus and a lot of heart. When we’re playing smart in our defensive zone, we’re a good hockey team.”
Crosby had scored in every game since Nov. 3 at Dallas. The run, in which Crosby had 26 goals and 24 assists, was the longest in the NHL since Quebec’s Mats Sundin had a 30-game streak during the 1992-93 season.
”It would’ve been nice to keep things going, but it was one of those games,” Crosby said.
Crosby also had goals in five consecutive games before being shut down by the Islanders, the team he has victimized the most — along with Philadelphia — with 62 points in 33 career games. Crosby also was denied on Pittsburgh’s second shootout attempt when DiPietro made a pad save.
”There was a few (chances) out there for him and his linemates,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. ”I’m sure we’ll see another streak.”
Josh Bailey gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the second period, but Chris Conner tied it before the frame was over.
That left the game in the hands of DiPietro and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, the only goalies to be chosen No. 1 overall in the NHL draft.
DiPietro finished with 37 saves through overtime in his first outing after sitting out five games while dealing with swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. Fleury stopped 25 shots and dropped to 16-2-2 against the Islanders.
The Penguins went 19-5-1 during Crosby’s streak, and had scored 21 times in the previous five games when they went 4-1. Pittsburgh will now shift its focus to the Winter Classic on Saturday against Washington at Heinz Field.
”It’s always easy to look back,” Crosby said. ”I just try to go out there and do the same things.”
By beating the NHL’s top team, the Islanders can forget about their 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.
”We didn’t watch any video from that game. We put it behind us,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. ”We wanted to move forward and see what kind of character that we have.”
The teams were tied 2-2 through three shootout rounds. P.A. Parenteau put the Islanders ahead by scoring off a speed rush on Fleury, and DiPietro sealed New York’s rare win over Pittsburgh by stopping Mark Letestu.
The Penguins were 16-4-1 against the Islanders since the start of the 2007-08 season and 11-1-1 the past two seasons. New York (10-19-6) is 5-1-1 in its past seven games and has moved six points in front of New Jersey at the bottom of the NHL standings.
”Any time that you beat a team like that — two points is two points — but when you beat a team like that … ,” DiPietro said. ”There’s a lot of work to be done, but you’ve seen a lot of young guys step up in big roles and play good hockey.”
The Islanders killed off both Pittsburgh power plays, including a penalty for too many men in overtime, and blocked 28 shots. Keeping Crosby in check was a bonus.
”He’s a great player. He had some chances to keep the streak alive,” Capuano said.
Pittsburgh had a golden chance to take the lead when it was awarded a penalty shot when Islanders defenseman Bruno Gervais closed his hand on the puck in the crease with 7:01 left in regulation. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, 13 for 30 in career shootout tries, took shot wide of the left post with a backhander.
Fleury’s signature moment of the third came when stopped Rob Schremp’s one-timer from close range less than 4 minutes into the period. He then kicked out Matt Moulson’s drive with 54 seconds left in regulation.
The Penguins, coming off a 6-3 home victory over Atlanta on Tuesday in which Crosby had two goals and two assists, looked sluggish and out of sync early.
The Islanders grabbed the lead 34 seconds into the second when Bailey popped in a rebound for his sixth goal.
Pittsburgh began to find its legs as the second period progressed, only to be stymied by DiPietro. The Penguins finally figured him out after they got a chance off a neutral-zone turnover.
Kennedy, who earlier set up Crosby during a 2-on-1 rush that resulted in a shot off the crossbar, earned an assist on Conner’s fourth goal with 3:27 left.
NOTES: Crosby had two shots on goal. … Bailey has three goals and an assist in five games since being recalled from Bridgeport of the AHL. … Four of the past 11 No. 1 overall draft picks were in the game (Crosby, Fleury, DiPietro and New York’s John Tavares). … Evgeni Malkin had a 14-game point streak against the Islanders broken.