Sidney Crosby is willing to do almost anything to win games for the Pittsburgh Penguins - and not going to apologize for it, either.
Crosby and the Penguins seek consecutive wins for the first time this season when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Mellon Arena on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old Crosby had three assists in helping Pittsburgh (3-3-0) defeat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime Thursday. But it was the hooking penalty he drew on Islanders center Alexei Yashin in the extra period - before assisting on Sergei Gonchar's game-winning goal after he appeared to slash Yashin to gain control of the puck - that angered Islanders coach Ted Nolan.
"I think for a world-class player, for a guy of his caliber, he's diving every time someone touches him," Nolan said. "No question in my mind, he should have been called for a slash before Yashin had a chance to hook him."
Crosby, who has two goals and nine points in six games, said Nolan's claims were unfounded.
"I don't need to defend myself," said Crosby, who has not been called for a diving penalty this season. "I think my play more than shows the type of player I am."
While Crosby has shown no let-up from his stellar 102-point rookie season, Evgeni Malkin is making the impact most envisioned when the Penguins drafted him second overall in 2004. After scoring in his NHL debut Wednesday, Malkin tied the game at 3 off a feed from Crosby in the third period and also had an assist for his first multipoint game.
"I just went low on the forecheck, and he went to the net," Crosby said of Malkin's goal. "As soon as I turned around, he was there."
Penguins coach Michel Therrien will start Marc-Andre Fleury in goal again after consecutive solid outings in which he has stopped 71 of 76 shots.
"He's playing really well, really solid," Therrien said of the top overall pick in 2003. "He's giving us a chance to win. Even when we're losing, he's making saves that keep us in the game. He has a really good start to the season like we were anticipating."
After recording five points in their first three games, the Blue Jackets (2-2-1) are trying to prevent a three-game skid. Columbus lost 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, its first game since last Saturday and just the second in 10 days.
Manny Malhotra and Alexander Svitov scored for the Blue Jackets, who were 0-for-7 on the power play and 0-for-10 in their last two games. They went 8-for-25 with the man advantage in their first three.
"We had a little bit of a jump early in the first, but it seems like we're missing a little bit ... a half a step or whatever," Blue Jackets defenseman Adam Foote said.
Rick Nash, who was held without a point for the second straight game, briefly left the ice late in the game before coming back and should be available for this contest.
Columbus routed Pittsburgh 6-1 in the only meeting between the teams last season in a game that saw the teams combine for 152 penalty minutes.
Jaroslav Balastik had a pair of second-period goals while Nash and Sergei Fedorov each added a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who are 3-2-2 all-time against the Penguins.