After starting the season with nine consecutive losses -- five in
overtime -- the Penguins jumped over the New York Islanders into
fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
Crosby has three goals and two assists through the first four
games of the Penguins' longest road trip of the season. And it's no
surprise that Pittsburgh is 3-1 with one game left.
"Every game he gets better," Lemieux said. "That's amazing
that he just turned 18 and he's our best player night in and night
out. It's incredible."
Crosby had never been in Manhattan before Sunday, but he looked
totally comfortable on the ice.
"It's an historic place," said Crosby, who has points in 13
games. "The atmosphere here ... it's always a challenge to play
here so it was nice to get one."
Ziggy Palffy also scored, and Sebastien Caron made 35 saves in
his sixth straight start for the Penguins (4-6-5), who rebounded
from a 6-3 loss at Boston on Saturday. Lemieux has 61 goals and 71
assists in 68 games against the Rangers. Crosby's goal brought a
wide smile to his face.
"I know he was looking forward to playing here in this
building," the 40-year-old Lemieux said. "For him to get a goal
in his first game is special."
Ryan Hollweg broke up Caron's shutout bid at 6:51 of the third
period with his first NHL goal and Marcel Hossa got the Rangers to
3-2 with 6:24 left. But despite 13 third-period shots and a late
power play, the Atlantic leaders had a two-game winning streak
snapped. Jaromir Jagr's 12-game point streak was also ended by his
"It's tough when you try to pull the rabbit out of the hat at
the last minute," said Kevin Weekes, who made 21 saves. "It was
not the start that we would have liked, but the fact that we hung
in there and gave a valiant effort says a lot about our team."
Pittsburgh's current stars did the big damage.
Crosby took a pass from Ric Jackman as he streaked freely down
the slot. He shifted the puck on his stick -- moving right and then
left -- before sending it past Weekes to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead
with 1:57 left in the second period.
The goal quieted the fans, who minutes earlier were on their
feet cheering when former Rangers captain Mark Messier was shown on
the center ice scoreboard.
"Oh yeah, I noticed it," said Crosby, who was 6 when he
watched Messier lead the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup on TV.
Crosby's latest score left him just 689 goals behind Messier,
seventh on the NHL's career list.
Lemieux is right behind him, and his sixth of the season gave
Pittsburgh a rare early lead and moved him within five goals of
Messier's total of 694. The Penguins' captain-owner took a crisp
pass from defenseman Sergei Gonchar and fired it past Weekes to
make it 1-0 at 15:20 of the first period.
Pittsburgh scored first for only the third time this season, but
second on the trip that ends Wednesday in Atlanta. It was also the
Penguins' second 2-0 lead of the season, both in the last three
The other was in a 5-1 win last Thursday at the Islanders when
Crosby netted two goals for the first time in the NHL. Pittsburgh
has won four of six after the rough start.
Pittsburgh's lead grew to a season-best 3-0 just 3:42 into the
third period when Palffy rifled a shot in from the right circle as
teammate Matt Murley jumped in front of Weekes.
Palffy had a chance to stretch the lead further at 5:54 when he
was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down on a
short-handed breakaway. But his hard shot was kicked out by Weekes'
"That was a big stop and they came back and made a game out of
it," Lemieux said.
Just 57 seconds later, Hollweg took a pass in the slot from
Jason Ward and ripped a shot in to make it 3-1.
"We had some chances, but we didn't play well," Jagr said.
"We couldn't play the way we wanted to."
Penguins LW John LeClair is still out indefinitely with
broken bones in his face after being struck by a puck Saturday in
practice. ... Hollweg earned his second career assist on Hossa's
first goal in 11 games. ... Jackman returned to the lineup after
being scratched for three games. ... Pittsburgh was 0-for-7 on the
power play. New York went 0-for-4.