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Sidney Crosby makes sure 1,000th point comes in win

Penguins captain sets up tying goal, scores in overtime for Nos. 1,001, 1,002

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby had already gotten his 1,000th NHL point and another after that. But for this to be the kind of milestone night he wanted, he had to work overtime.

So it was no surprise when Crosby scored with 21.1 seconds remaining in sudden death to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory against the Winnipeg Jets at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

That completed a three-point game for Crosby, giving him 1,002 for his NHL career.

"It's nice to win the game," Crosby said. "When you have a memorable night like this, you want to finish the right way."

Crosby had been limited to one point in his previous three games, and his bid to become the 86th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 had become a bit of a mental grind. He acknowledged it was a relief when he got the milestone out of the way 6:28 into the first period by setting up Chris Kunitz's goal that increased the Penguins lead to 2-0.

"You want to get it and it's a great number, but it's not something you want to talk about for a week or week and a half," Crosby said. "It means that you're probably not putting it in that much. We had lots of chances the last few games, and I could tell guys were looking for me a little bit more and things like that. So I appreciate it, but I'm glad they don't have to think about it either and answer about it."

Video: WPG@PIT: Crosby sets up Kunitz for 1,000th point

It was fitting Kunitz was the one to score the goal. He's been in on 186 of Crosby's 1002 points, which is second most on the Penguins behind Evgeni Malkin's 263. Crosby won a battle for the puck with Jets captain Blake Wheeler in the left faceoff circle and passed to Kunitz between the circles for a quick shot past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

"At this point, you're just looking to get it, but it's funny the way things work out," Crosby said. "[Kunitz] has been probably the guy I've played with the most over my time here."

Even Crosby's recent struggles turned out to be serendipitous because his mother would have missed the milestone moment otherwise. Trina Crosby tried to get to Pittsburgh for the game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, but snowstorms in Nova Scotia kept her at home in Cole Harbour until she arrived Wednesday evening.

So she wasn't there to see Crosby get No. 999 by setting up rookie Jake Guentzel's goal in a 4-0 win against the Canucks, but she was sitting beside her husband, Troy, when the puck was dropped Thursday.

Then she was standing along with everyone else in the building after Kunitz scored.

"It's kind of funny the way things work out," Crosby said. "There was a storm at home, so she couldn't get here for the prior game. So I'm glad I could get it done with her here."

Knowing Crosby needed one point to get to 1,000, the sellout crowd of 18,638 immediately erupted and gave him a standing ovation after Kunitz's shot went in. He received another ovation after a video of his career highlights played on the center ice video scoreboard during a television timeout at 7:07 of the first.

"It's pretty emotional, especially when you start to look at the Jumbotron and you see all those things," Crosby said. "They go by pretty quick. You kind of flash on all these different plays and years. That's how fast it feels. Time goes by quick, but you really try to soak in all those things."

Video: WPG@PIT: Malkin, Crosby combine for slick OT winner

Crosby, 29, has 369 goals and 633 assists in 757 NHL games. He became the 12th fastest in League history and fastest active player to reach 1,000 points, surpassing former Penguins forward Jaromir Jagr, who did it in 763 games.

Despite missing the first six games this season while recovering from a concussion, he leads the NHL with 31 goals and is second with 64 points behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (66). This comes after he won the Stanley Cup for the second time and was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as postseason MVP last season.

Throw in another championship and tournament MVP award at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 with Team Canada in September, and reaching the 1,000-point milestone continues what has been a dream run.

Even if it did take him a few more games than he would have liked.

"I was hovering around it for a while, so it's nice to get it, nice to get a win," Crosby said. "You get that early and you want to make sure you win the game."

That appeared in doubt after the Jets rallied to take a 3-2 lead on Dustin Byfuglien's wraparound goal 8:24 into the third period. The Penguins went back to work after that, and Crosby got the secondary assist on Phil Kessel's tying power-play goal with 6:05 left in the third.

Then Crosby and Malkin teamed on the winning goal in the 3-on-3 overtime. Malkin battled through a check from Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba and backhanded the puck in front to Crosby for the finish and fitting ending.

"The fact that he scores the game-winner, I think, is apropos given that he gets the 1,000th point in the game, but certainly it doesn't surprise me by any stretch," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I think the sky's the limit for Sid. I just think he's that good of a player."

Video: Crosby joins NHL Tonight to discuss his 1,000th point

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