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Crosby's OT goal caps Pens' rally

by Brian Compton /
Leave it to Sidney Crosby to complete a Pittsburgh Penguins' comeback.

After his team battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, the captain made sure the defending champs went home winners as he scored on the power play at 3:07 of overtime to lift the Pens to a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on Monday night.

Pascal Dupuis and Michael Rupp also scored for the Penguins, who won consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Oct. 17 and 20. Evgeni Malkin had two assists. Marc Andre-Fleury made 19 saves.

This was the second time in two meetings this season that the Penguins trailed 2-0 after two periods and rallied to beat the Panthers, who were hit with a four-minute high sticking penalty against Nathan Horton at 1:25 of overtime.

Less than two minutes later, Crosby beat Tomas Vokoun off a rebound of Malkin's slap shot. It was only his second goal in the past 12 games. Pittsburgh improved to 7-0 when its captain scores.

"I'm not sure how it got in," Crosby said. "One of their (defensemen) was in front. I saw Vokoun go down, (Malkin) shot the puck, and I was just hanging out on the side of the net there to collect the garbage. I didn't get much on it."

"Down 4-on-3, somebody is going to be open," Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard said. "If we want to be considered a good team, we have to be able to play with the lead."

Horton broke a scoreless tie with his seventh goal of the season at 17:33 of the first period. With the teams at even strength, Horton extended his point streak to six games as he finished off a nifty play by Stephen Weiss, who split the defense before feeding Horton for the wrister.

Ballard gave Florida a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. The stay-at-home defenseman took a drop pass from Michael Frolik and fired a wrist shot past Fleury for his first goal of the season and the 26th of his career.

Pittsburgh got on the comeback trail when Dupuis beat Vokoun (42 saves) 4:49 into the third for his third point in five games. Dupuis grabbed a rebound in front of the net and fired a shot through traffic that saw the puck bounce up, hit Vokoun's shoulder and trickle over the goal line just before defenseman Bryan Allen was able to dislodge the net.

"We've been finding our way here," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. "We've adjusted well. Our team's played well, even though we've had some injuries. We're starting to see a consistent effort as to how we want to play the game."

Rupp tied the game with only 2:32 left in regulation. After holding the puck for a while, Malkin lost control of it but was able to jab it to the front of the net, where Rupp poked it between Vokoun's legs. It was his fifth goal of the season.

"We didn't handle the third period well," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think it was just a matter of time before they got one. We didn't handle the lead or the pressure they were putting on us."

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

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