Penguins 6, Islanders 5, OT

Sidney Crosby finished the regular season with a flourish. Next

up, his Pittsburgh Penguins try to repeat as Stanley Cup

champions.

Crosby scored twice to reach 50 goals for the first time and

added three assists that helped Pittsburgh beat the New York

Islanders 6-5 in overtime Sunday.

“I put a lot of hard work in,” Crosby said. “Last summer and

throughout the season it was something I was trying to focus on.

You’re doing it to help yourself and help your team. It was a nice

bonus.”

Jordan Leopold scored at 4:25 of overtime for the Penguins, who

will be the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference when the NHL

playoffs begin this week. The defending champs host fifth-seeded

Ottawa in their opener.

Crosby’s second-period breakaway gave him 51 goals this season,

tying him with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the Maurice Richard

Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. It was Crosby’s first NHL

crown in that category.

“I was happy with my consistency and my overall game was

hopefully better with faceoffs and things like that,” Crosby said.

“I feel like I improved in other areas.”

Crosby had three points in the opening 17:03, including his

milestone goal in becoming the first Penguins player to score 50

since Jaromir Jagr in 2001-02. Sid the Kid finished with 109

points, tying him with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for second behind

Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin (112) for the Art Ross Trophy.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma played Crosby for 22:38 in an effort

to get him the personal milestones.

“He was in a race and we wanted to put him in a position to do

what he could,” Bylsma said. “It’s a delicate balance to try to

get to the playoffs as healthy as we can while also playing the

game.”

Evgeni Malkin complemented Crosby’s big game with two goals and

two assists.

In his fifth NHL season, Crosby hit the 50-goal milestone for

the first time when he scored a power-play goal with 2:57 left in

the first to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. He tipped Malkin’s feed

past a sliding Dwayne Roloson to finish a 2-on-1 rush, and his

teammates immediately greeted him near the boards to celebrate.

The 22-year-old star, who netted the Olympic gold-medal winning

goal for Canada at the Vancouver Games, thought he had his 50th on

Thursday night at home against the Islanders. But the Pittsburgh

captain was stripped of that one long after the game when a video

replay showed it was scored by Bill Guerin.

Eric Godard also scored to give Pittsburgh five wins in six

meetings against the Islanders this season.

The Islanders scored three third-period goals on nine shots to

tie the score at 5. Kyle Okposo and Jon Sim found the net 24

seconds apart, and John Tavares tipped in Freddy Meyer’s wrist shot

from the left circle to beat Brent Johnson for the tying goal with

4:13 left in regulation.

Tavares had two goals and an assist. Matt Moulson also scored

for New York, and Mark Streit had three assists. Moulson ended the

season with a team-high 30 goals. Tavares, the top pick in last

year’s NHL draft, finished his rookie season with 24.

“It’s a point here for us and we made a lot of strides,”

Tavares said. “We’re starting to find what works for us and our

identity. It should be an exciting time next year for us.

“We’re an up-tempo team that has a very good young core with a

lot of upside.”

Leopold allowed the Penguins to get two points after blowing the

late lead. Malkin hit the streaking defenseman with a hard pass and

Leopold beat Roloson on a hard left-circle shot for his 11th

goal.

Crosby tormented the Islanders for six goals and 11 assists in

the season series and had a five-point game for the second time

this season and first since Nov. 28 against the Rangers.

The Islanders were 2 for 9 on the power play and ended their

third straight season without a playoff berth with three losses by

a combined score of 19-9. New York’s 79 points still marked an

18-point improvement from last season’s league-worst finish.

“Our team has taken strides in the right direction,” Okposo

said. “We matured this year and that’s an important step in the

rebuilding process we’re going through.

“We grew up a lot with the core group of guys the last couple

of years. Next year we’re looking to be a playoff team.”

Pittsburgh entered assured of the No. 4 seed and a first-round

matchup with Ottawa. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma rested goalie

Marc-Andre Fleury with his team already securing home-ice

advantage.

Johnson made 33 saves in his first start since March 11.

NOTES: Tavares, Streit and Moulson were the only Islanders to

play in every game. … F Micheal Haley needed to be carried off

the ice after taking a hard fall late in the second. He returned in

the third. … Fleury’s rest marked the first time he did not start

in Pittsburgh’s last 15 games. … Penguins forward Eric Tangradi

made his NHL debut.