Crosby scores early to lift Penguins over Lightning
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Sidney Crosby scored twice and added an assist, as the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3, at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins, playing without star center Evgeni Malkin, scored three straight goals in the first period and held on while improving to 5-1-0 since getting swept by New Jersey in a home-and-home series earlier this month.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves, while Paul Martin, Beau Bennett and Matt Cooke all scored for Pittsburgh, which now sits atop the Atlantic Division.
Anders Lindback gave up three goals on 10 shots before being pulled for Mathieu Garon, who made 10 saves in relief. Steven Stamkos scored and assisted on goals from Eric Brewer and Cory Conacher for the Southeast Division leaders, who had won three of four coming in.
The meeting of the league's highest scoring teams figured to be back-and- forth, but it was all Penguins early.
Crosby scored twice in the first 7:15. His first came at 1:16 when he roofed one into the left corner, then was credited with his second when Lindback kicked one into his own net.
"I just felt it hit my heel and then it probably hit three other guys and went in," recalled Crosby. "I'll take it. Sometimes that's what you need."
Lindback gave up a rebound goal to Martin with 33.9 seconds left in the opening period and found himself on the bench at the start of the second.
The switch in goal, as well as Adam Hall dropping the gloves with Joe Vitale in the waning seconds of the first, apparently provided a spark, as the Lightning pulled within 3-2 early in the middle stanza.
Brewer's shot from the right side was deflected in front and found the back at the net at 1:37, and Stamkos' one-timer on a two-man advantage less than two minutes later cut the deficit to one.
The momentum ceased when Brewer and Sami Salo were whistled for penalties 42 seconds apart just past the midway point of the second. It took Pittsburgh 35 seconds to capitalize on its 5-on-3, with Crosby sending a cross-ice pass to Bennett for the rookie's first career goal at the 12:20 mark.
Conacher again made it a one-goal affair at 3:15 of the third, but Cooke's empty-netter in the final minute sealed things.
"It was a little too big (a deficit) to come back," Stamkos said.
The Penguins have scored at least one power-play goal in 11 straight games ... Malkin was ruled out after suffering what appeared to be a head injury Friday night in a win over Florida ... Tampa Bay has dropped four consecutive meetings against Pittsburgh ... Both teams went 1-for-2 on the power play.
02/25 00:29:58 ET