|Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby netted a pair of goals to lead Pittsburgh to a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars.
Crosby scored 24 seconds into Friday night’s game ( 700K ) and added a second-period goal to lead the Penguins to a 4-1 victory over Dallas.
Facing the reigning NHL scoring champ is tough enough under any circumstances. But playing him when he’s had time off is even tougher.
“We got in some good practices,” Crosby said of the unusual break in the schedule since last Saturday’s 5-0 home victory over Atlanta. “You don't get a chance to work on things throughout the year with morning skates and short practices all the time, so you try to make the most of it when you do have the time. I felt pretty sharp."
While Crosby was practicing, the Stars were playing — their first visit to Pittsburgh since 2004 was their fourth game in six nights during a swing through the Atlantic Division that continues Saturday in Philadelphia.
But the Stars weren’t using fatigue as an excuse.
"Everyone has rough stretches in their schedule, and it's our job to battle through whatever obstacles are in front of us," forward Stu Barnes said. "We need to keep working and creating chances and limiting theirs."
The Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Crosby's 13th goal of the season. Crosby grabbed the puck in the right corner and began to skate below the goal line. It looked like he planned to go around the net — instead, he cut in front and jammed the puck past goalie Mike Smith.
"Crosby is a great player and all, but to win in this league you have to make that save," Smith said. "We had to chase the game and we just couldn't come back."
The early goal was just the tonic the Penguins needed to get back in the flow after their long break.
"When you score on your first shift in the first 30 seconds, that gives you some momentum," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.
Tyler Kennedy kept the momentum going when he made it 2-0 at 3:38 ( 700K ), picking off Jeff Halpern’s pass and beating Smith from the left circle with a wrist shot.
"It was good to get the first couple; that gets us on a roll a bit," Crosby said. "I thought a big part of (shaking off any rust) was trying to get through that first period, and we were able to get the lead, which helped."
Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro made it 2-1 at 5:31 of the second period ( 700K ), surprising Fleury with a screened slap shot from the top of the right circle. But Crosby restored the Penguins’ two-goal lead at 8:34, chipping Darryl Sydor’s rebound over Smith from the right of the crease.
Evgeni Malkin’s third-period redirection of Petr Sykora’s pass completed the scoring ( 700K ). Crosby finished with eight shots, but couldn’t get his third goal.
"Their best player was pretty good tonight," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said of Crosby, who finished plus-2. "We made some key mistakes early on and we ended up chasing the game all night. When you are chasing, you expend more energy, and we just couldn't get out of the hole we dug ourselves. We got behind the eight-ball."
Crosby now has at least one point in all but two of the Penguins’ 24 games. The only thing he didn’t get was his first hat trick of the season and second of his career.
“I’m happy to get two goals,” he said, “but sometimes three would be nice.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.