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Isles end Crosby's streak, top Pens in SO

by John Kreiser /
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Sidney Crosby will try to start a new point streak when he takes the ice on Saturday for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

His 25-game streak, the longest in the NHL in 18 years, died Wednesday night at the hands of a most unlikely source.

Crosby came to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with 62 points in 32 career games against the New York Islanders, his highest total against any team. But the Islanders kept him off the scoresheet for 65 minutes on Wednesday night, limiting him to two shots on goal, both of which Rick DiPietro stopped.

DiPietro stopped Crosby again in the shootout, then foiled Mark Letestu in the fourth round after PA Parenteau scored to give the Islanders a 2-1 victory. The season-high crowd of 14,345 erupted when Parenteau beat Marc-Andre Fleury, and again when DiPietro stopped Letestu for the win.

The Islanders, 29th in the 30-team NHL, did what no team had been able to do since Dallas on Nov. 3: Stop Sid.

Not that it was easy.

"He's a great player," Isles interim coach Jack Capuano said. "He had some chances tonight to keep the streak alive. He's a great player, and I'm sure there will be another (streak) soon."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who was concerned before the game that the hoopla surrounding the Winter Classic might distract his team against the Islanders, wasn't unhappy with what his saw from his team.

"We got (38) shots and we had a lot of opportunities. DiPietro, give him credit -- we had some shots with traffic and he swallowed up a lot of rebounds, didn't give us many second-chance opportunities. He played very well, their team played hard and did make it difficult on us, but we also probably could find one or two more goals in there."

He was, however, disappointed to see Crosby's streak end.

"It's a big deal to get points in that many games in our game today," Bylsma said. "The streak was incredible, and I'm sure we'll see another one if he keeps playing like he is."

The biggest reason this one came to an end was the play of DiPietro, who stopped 37 shots through regulation and overtime, including a third-period penalty shot by Kris Letang to keep the score tied 1-1. He also survived an overtime power play after the Islanders were called for having too many men on the ice with 1:14 remaining.

DiPietro paid tribute to his teammates for their play. The Islanders blocked another 28 shots, and the Penguins missed the net 18 times. In all, they took 84 shots at the net, exactly twice as many as the Islanders.

"It wasn't me," said DiPietro, who improved to 10-8-2 against the Penguins in his career. "It was a complete team effort. It's a defensive corps that played with a lot of focus, and the forwards chipped in. When we're playing smart in our defensive zone, not making stupid mistakes at the blue lines, we're a good hockey team."

With the 2010 portion of their schedule completed, the Penguins are heading home to begin 2011 by hosting the Washington Capitals in the Winter Classic at Heinz Field on New Year's Day.  The two-day break before the game will be welcomed by a team has played three times in four nights since the Christmas break.

Crosby said the hype surrounding the Winter Classic had nothing to do with the loss.

"I don't think so," he said when asked if the build-up to Saturday's game was a distraction. "It's not a bad thing to be a part of. I think everyone realizes it's a League event, and we're lucky to be part of it."

Crosby entered the game with 50 points (26 goals and 24 assists) during a 25-game scoring streak, the longest in the NHL since 1992-93, when Quebec's Mats Sundin had at least one point in 30 consecutive games.

"It's a tough one to explain," he said. "We had some chances; so did they. The played a pretty patient game. It's always easy to look back -- there's one you could have put in, one that someone else could have put in."

Neither team mounted much sustained offense in the early going. Crosby had one of the better scoring opportunities midway through the first period when he took a one-timer from the high slot, but he didn't get all of it and the puck wound up in DiPietro's glove.

Crosby had a golden opportunity after a bad pass by the Islanders sent him off on a 2-on-1 break. Tyler Kennedy carried into the Isles' zone and set up Crosby for a one-timer from well inside the left circle. Crosby beat DiPietro cleanly but rang the puck off the crossbar and out of play.

The Islanders needed just 34 seconds of the second period to open the scoring -- and they did it against Crosby and linemates Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked the rebound of Travis Hamonic's right point shot into the left circle, where Josh Bailey was waiting. Bailey hit the wide-open side of the net for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

Crosby had two chances to extend his streak midway through the period. Hamonic poked the puck away from him on a 1-on-1 try at 11:25. Later in the shift, Crosby set up Evgeni Malkin alone in the slot, but DiPietro gloved his shot and held on.

Pittsburgh got its first power play when Matt Martin was called for boarding at 14:01. Crosby was on the ice for the whole two minutes, but the Penguins generated little. However, they did tie the score 32 seconds after the power play expired when Chris Conner knocked in the rebound of Kennedy's shot.

Kennedy picked off a pass by John Tavares in the neutral zone, raced down the right side and put a shot on goal that DiPietro stopped but didn't hold. Conner barged his way into the crease and tucked the puck inside the post for his fourth of the season.

DiPietro nearly gave away a goal midway through the period when he whiffed on a clearing try, but Kennedy also misfired on his shot and the puck dribbled wide. DiPietro redeemed himself by foiling Letang's backhander on the penalty shot after the officials ruled an Islander had covered the puck in the crease.
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