PITTSBURGH (AP)Sidney Crosby decided enough was enough.
The Penguins were mired in a lengthy, late-season losing streak and Crosby sat on the precipice of another NHL milestone. Pittsburgh’s captain took care of both with a flick of the wrist in overtime.
Crosby scored the second of his two goals at 2:21 of overtime for his 1,400th career point, helping the Penguins end a four-game skid with a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
”When Sid elevates his game, like he did tonight, it gives our whole bench a boost,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ”He leads by example, just how he plays the game and I thought he was a consistent threat all night.”
Crosby added an assist in his 1,100th game, becoming the seventh-fastest – and third active – player in NHL history to reach the 1,400-point milestone. It was his 158th career three-point game, tying Guy Lafleur and Joe Sakic for 11th in league history.
It was also Crosby’s 77th game-winning goal, one behind Evgeni Malkin and Jaromir Jagr for the most in team history. Crosby took sole possession of first on the NHL’s all-time overtime points list and scored his 19th career overtime goal, tying Jagr for second most.
On his latest winner, Crosby got a pass from Rikard Rakell and tipped it behind David Rittich near the post.
”Sid was on the back door, so I tried to get it to him,” Rakell said.
Jason Zucker also scored in regulation and Rakell assisted on all three goals for the Penguins, who have only three wins in their last 10 games. Casey DeSmith stopped 33 shots for Pittsburgh, which regained a four-point advantage over Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
”It’s fun being in an emotional game like that,” Crosby said. ”Down the stretch, the points are so important, especially now when we’re fighting for position.”
Matt Duchene and Nick Cousins had goals for Nashville, which lost its second straight. The Predators have dropped three of their last five after recently winning 11 of 17 overall. Rittich made 27 saves.
”I think there’s a lot to like about our game,” Predators coach John Hynes said. ”For lots of stretches, we were able to dictate the terms of the game. I thought it was a good, collective effort and I felt like we deserved better.”
Cousins gave Nashville a 2-1 lead at 4:31 of the third period when he sent a failed Pittsburgh clearing attempt over DeSmith’s shoulder from the slot.
Zucker tied it for Pittsburgh at 8:53 of the third when he took a pass from Crosby and sent a backhander behind Rittich from the slot. It was his first goal since Jan. 17, as he recently returned after missing 40 of the last 42 games because of an injury.
Crosby opened the scoring at 4:58. Rakell created a turnover in the corner and fed Crosby, who ripped a one-timer behind Rittich from the left faceoff dot.
Duchene tied it with 11 seconds left in the first on a partial breakaway. The Penguins’ Marcus Pettersson fell on the play, creating the breakaway, as Duchene beat DeSmith with a forehand deke.
DeSmith kept the game tied at 1 through two periods as the Predators held an 18-4 shots advantage through 28 minutes. He made a desperation left pad save on Tanner Jeannot and a point-blank stop on Duchene during a Predators power-play.
CROSBY CLIMBS THE RANKS
Crosby passed Jari Kurri for 22nd place on the NHL’s career points list with his assist on Zucker’s goal.
At 1,400 points, Crosby is two behind Alex Ovechkin for 21st in league history. Only Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman reached 1,400 points with one franchise.
Crosby became the first player in franchise history to appear in 1,100 games with Pittsburgh and the fifth member of his draft class to hit the mark. Crosby has the seventh-most points through 1,100 games in NHL history – and sixth-most not including Lemieux, who did not play 1,100 career games.
The Predators opened the third period on the power play. Malkin was assessed a four-minute double minor after he cross-checked Mark Borowiecki in the face, drawing blood. Borowiecki, who wasn’t on the bench to start the third period, was given a slashing minor.
Pittsburgh’s Brian Boyle took a slashing minor during the penalty kill, giving Nashville a five-on-three for 35 seconds, but the Penguins killed off the early penalties.
”It’s an emotional game out there,” Sullivan said. ”It’s physical and sometimes that stuff happens. Obviously, we don’t want our best players in the penalty box, but those are competitive guys.”
NOTES: Duchene is tied with teammate Filip Forsberg for the single-season franchise record with both having a career-best 38 goals. … Mikael Granlund assisted on Duchene’s first-period goal and is one away from 300 in his career. … G Juuse Saros did not dress for the Predators because of a non-COVID-related illness. Connor Ingram was recalled from Milwaukee (AHL) and backed up Rittich.
Predators: Open a five-game homestand Tuesday against San Jose.
Penguins: Travel to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
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