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Crosby scores 43rd, 44th as Penguins rally

by Brian Hunter
What a week it's been for Sidney Crosby.

It started Sunday when he scored the gold medal-winning overtime goal for Team Canada in the Olympics. Back in his role as captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Crosby took over the NHL goal-scoring lead with a pair of tallies Saturday afternoon in a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars at Mellon Arena.

After goals by Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis rallied the Penguins from a 3-1 deficit, Crosby gave Pittsburgh the lead for good with 3:13 left in the second when he spun out from behind the net and banked a shot off the leg of Stars forward Trevor Daley and past Kari Lehtonen.

Dallas had a 5-on-3 advantage to begin the third, but after Pittsburgh killed off the first minor penalty Crosby added some insurance by scoring shorthanded at the 1:35 mark.

Crosby now has 44 goals this season, two more than Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals and Rangers play at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"I'll take it," Crosby said. "I don't get out that much on the penalty kill, so when I do I'm just trying to worry about killing the penalty off, not so much scoring. But when you get that opportunity you want to make the most of it."

Jordan Staal opened the scoring and Alexei Ponikarovsky added a late power-play goal as the Penguins opened up a three-point lead over the idle Devils for the Atlantic Division lead. Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 27 saves.

"I know that even if I give up a couple in a game that we're not done," Fleury said. "The guys will keep coming and get some goals … I always believe we can come back and win games."

After Staal opened the scoring at 2:11 of the first period, the Stars responded with three straight goals to take the lead.

Mike Ribeiro evened the score at 12:05 and Dallas went ahead 3-1 in the second as Brandon Segal and Loui Eriksson struck 59 seconds apart.

"Having a 3-1 lead, that looked like a big turnaround," veteran Mike Modano said. "We had a good start to the second, and then all of a sudden the bottom fell out.

"Every mistake we seem to make now just ends up in our net, so it's magnified 1,000 times."

Kunitz quickly answered at 4:01 and Fleury made a huge diving save on Brad Richards five minutes into the period to keep the Stars from extending their lead. The Penguins promptly rallied to tie at 9:10 on a Dupuis goal.

"We got two big goals when we were down there," Crosby said. "Dupes and Kunie scored some big goals and we seemed to get some momentum off of that. It took us a while to get going, but we did some good things in the second half and got some goals out of it."

Lehtonen made his first start of the season for Stars, who acquired the goalie from the Thrashers last month. He stopped 28 shots.

Ponikarovsky capped the scoring with his 20th goal of the season and his first since the Penguins picked him up from the Maple Leafs at the trade deadline. It was a power-play tally with 4:47 left in the third. Ponikarovsky recorded six shots and four hits in his Pittsburgh debut.

"Everybody worked hard -- especially the penalty killers," Ponikarovsky said. "We killed important penalties and basically Sid got us back in the game with two goals. We battled hard and I'm just happy to win the game and score the goal."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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