PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby is spending his first NHL season learning from Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux. On a night Crosby lived up to his hype, he won a game by not copying Lemieux.
The 18-year-old rookie beat Jose Theodore with a backhander for the only goal in the first shootout in Montreal Canadiens history and Pittsburgh recovered after losing a two-goal lead for a 3-2 victory Thursday night.
``It's so amazing, it's hard to believe,'' Crosby said of a memorable game against the team he grew up rooting for. ``I was just fortunate to get that shot. I got lucky with that shot.''
Crosby got a goal that counted in regulation and so did Lemieux, barely a minute after he was lay prone on the ice after being hit by a stick. Jocelyn Thibault, previously winless, turned aside 30 shots in easily his best game of the season. He outdueled Theodore as Pittsburgh beat the team with the Eastern Conference's best record a night after losing 5-0 in Atlanta.
But it will be the kind of move that only stars can make, by Crosby, that likely will show up on highlight reels.
After Theodore stopped Mark Recchi and Lemieux, the goalie came out early to challenge Crosby, but the rookie skated to the right of the crease and switched from forehand to backhand to give Pittsburgh its first shootout victory.
``I watched Mario take his shot, and go to his forehand,'' Crosby said. ``I saw that he (Theodore) committed a lot when he did that, so I did the same thing and figured he'd commit the same way, but only I went to the side and went to the backhand.''
Lemieux was impressed how Crosby made up the move on the fly.
``He's quite amazing. It's great to be on the ice with him,'' Lemieux said. ``He just came out with a great play on that shot.''
And to think that before the game, several Montreal players said they weren't all that worried about facing Crosby for the first time - or, it seemed, a Pittsburgh team that needed 10 games to get its first victory but has now won four of six.
``People talk a lot about Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh showed tonight they're really a good team,'' Theodore said. ``They have so many skilled players, it's scary to face them. He (Crosby) made a nice play - good players make good moves and he made a good move.''
Before Crosby scored, Thibault stopped Michael Ryder, Alex Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin in the shootout to deny Montreal a conference-leading 13th victory and sixth in a row.
Pittsburgh, playing its third game in four nights in three cities, also unexpectedly welcomed back forward John LeClair after he missed three games with several fractured bones in his face. LeClair, wearing a full face visor, played his regular shifts but didn't score.
Crosby, whose goaltender father, Troy, was drafted in 1984 by the Canadiens but never played for them, scored with just over seven minutes gone in the first when he threw the puck on net from the left circle and it deflected off defenseman Francis Bouillon's skate for his sixth goal.
The 40-year-old Lemieux, another member of that 1984 draft class, made it 2-0 with a goal reminiscent of his prime years. Barely a minute after being stretched out behind the net for several minutes after being inadvertently hit in the face by Mathieu Dandenault's stick late in the first, Lemieux deftly steered Ziggy Palffy's pass from the right wing boards under the crossbar before Theodore could reach it. It was Lemieux's seventh goal and 690th of his career.
Montreal tied it on rookie Chris Higgins' one-timer from the right circle off Andrei Markov's pass with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third following a long penalty kill. Steve Begin was ejected and drew a five-minute penalty for leveling Maxime Talbot with an elbow, but Recchi shortened the power play by taking an interference penalty midway through it.
Thibault, hurt part of the season and ineffective when he has played with an 0-3-1 record and 5.39 goals-against average going into the game, also allowed Craig Rivet's goal midway through the second on a power play.
Notes: It was the Penguins' second shootout; they lost their second game of the season at Carolina when Ziggy Palffy, Lemieux and Crosby couldn't score. ... Montreal D Sheldon Souray sustained an unspecified foot injury. ... Montreal was 15-3-2 against the Penguins the previous five seasons. Theodore was denied an 11th victory that would have tied him with Detroit's Manny Legace for the league lead. ... Crosby faced an NHL team from Canada for the first time.
|PPG - Sidney Crosby (6) ASST: Sergei Gonchar (5), Ziggy Palffy (12)|
1 - 0 PIT
|Mario Lemieux (7) ASST: Ziggy Palffy (13), Richard Jackman (10)|
2 - 0 PIT
|PPG - Craig Rivet (3) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (8), Radek Bonk (4)|
2 - 1 PIT
|Chris Higgins (3) ASST: Andrei Markov (8), Mike Ribeiro (9)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||M. Ryder||M. Recchi|
|2||A. Kovalev||M. Lemieux|
|3||A. Perezhogin||S. Crosby|
|Mike Ribeiro Too many men/ice - bench|
|Tomas Plekanec Slashing against Josef Melichar|
|Alex Kovalev Roughing against Richard Jackman|
|Richard Jackman Roughing against Alex Kovalev|
|Brooks Orpik Hooking against Tomas Plekanec|
|Andrei Markov Hooking against Ziggy Palffy|
|Sidney Crosby Cross checking against Richard Zednik|
|Mark Streit Interference against Rico Fata|
|Mark Recchi Interference against Saku Koivu|
|Francis Bouillon Slashing against Lasse Pirjeta|
|Niklas Sundstrom Interference against Rico Fata|
|Steve Begin Elbowing (maj) against Maxime Talbot|
|Steve Begin Misconduct (10 min)|
|Steve Begin Game misconduct|
|Mark Recchi Interference against Saku Koivu|
|Andrei Markov Misconduct (10 min)|