Make it two dozen for Sidney Crosby.
Brian Elliott stopped 44 shots and Erik Karlsson scored a pair of goals and finished with a three-point night as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Sunday night before a sellout crowd of 20,146 at Scotiabank Place, but Crosby still made headlines with a late goal that extended his points streak to 24 games, the NHL’s longest in 18 years.
Crosby jumped off the bench, raced into the Senators’ zone and took a 15-foot backhander that Elliott got a piece of but couldn’t hold. The puck trickled just over the goal line inside the left post with 3:22 left in the third period.
"It wasn't a skill goal, but you just have to get the puck to the net," Elliott said. "I'll take the win any night and I won't care if he scores on me."
Crosby has 24 goals in 24 games during the streak, and 46 total points. The streak is the longest in the NHL since Mats Sundin, then a member of the Quebec Nordiques, had points in 30 consecutive games during the 1992-93 season.
However, he also took a pair of penalties, one leading to an Ottawa goal, and would have been assessed another if the Senators hadn’t scored on the delayed call.
"It was tough enough as it is, obviously, getting scored on," Crosby said. "Those penalties, I don't know, I wouldn't say I agree with them but that happens in hockey sometimes and probably more times than not guys don't agree with the penalties they get."
Pittsburgh still has two games left this month -- Tuesday against Atlanta at the Consol Energy Center and Wednesday at the New York Islanders -- in which Crosby will need to record a point if he wants to carry his streak into the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against Washington on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field.
While the Senators would have enjoyed recording the shutout and putting an end to Crosby’s streak, they were happy just to get a big two points. Ottawa hadn’t put together consecutive wins since taking a season-high four straight back in early November.
"It was a very good win and we showed that we are still a very good team," Karlsson said.
Mike Fisher opened the scoring and Jason Spezza had a pair of assists, but he left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury after Kris Letang checked him into the boards.
"I saw him going to the puck and he kind of turned his back so I didn't want to hit him, so I put my two hands around him," Letang said. "I think he tripped before and it kind of looked bad on the play."
The Penguins came out of the holiday break on a three-game winning streak and having taken 16 of their last 18 overall, but Fisher and Karlsson struck within a five-minute span of the first period to give the Senators all they would need.
Crosby’s hooking penalty led to Fisher’s goal, which resulted from a Karlsson shot that deflected first off Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin and then off Fisher before making its way past Marc-Andre Fleury at the 9:14 mark.
Crosby was set to head back to the box moments later, but on the delayed penalty call Spezza hopped on the ice during a change and set up Karlsson for a shot from the point that made it 2-0 with 6:18 left in the period.
A charging minor to Chris Kunitz with 20 seconds remaining in the first cost the Penguins 20 seconds into the middle period. The Senators cashed in on another power play as Karlsson recorded his second of the game and eighth of the season.
"There's always an eye on the fact that you're coming back from two days where you don't skate but that wasn't any different for them and for us," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's just a matter of how we're going to play the game and our mentality going in, and in the first we didn't maybe look to execute too much and didn't manage the puck deep a number of occasions and that led to a lot of success for them."
Fleury made 21 saves, including a great glove stop on Nick Foligno’s penalty shot 10:30 into the third. Foligno had been hooked on a breakaway and his backhander beat Fleury but was scooped away by Kunitz before the entire puck had crossed the goal line.