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