Sidney Crosby extended his points streak to 22 games in a 5-2 Penguins win over the Florida Panthers tonight at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins opened the scoring at 1:30 of the first period. Chris Conner fed the puck ahead to Tyler Kennedy, who raced into the left side of the Florida zone, pulled up in the circle and fed Mark Lestestu. After carrying the puck in deep, Letestu slid the puck behind the stick of Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun to make it 1-0.
Florida tied it, 1-1, at 2:43 of the first period when Stephen Weiss' shot from near the left dot handcuffed Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson and squirted between his glove and body.
It was the Panthers' first shot.
Johnson got perhaps a bit of redemption when he picked up an assist -- the ninth of his career -- on a Penguins go-ahead goal. Johnson got the puck to Chris Kunitz, who tapped it to Crosby near the Penguins blue line.
Crosby drove down and, from the left circle, whipped a slapshot to the far side under Vokoun's armpit to make it 2-1 at 7:44 of the first period.
The goal extended Crosby's points streak to 22 games, tying him for the longest such streak in the NHL since the end of the 2004-05 lockout. Dany Heatley had points in 22 consecutive games for Ottawa Oct. 5-Nov. 29, 2005.
Matt Cooke scored his second goal in as many games at 10:57, making it 3-1 on a turning shot from the slot. The play was set up Evgeni Malkin stole the puck from Florida's Bryan Allen after Allen got a rebound of Malkin's shot.
That goal chased Vokoun, who was replaced by Scott Clemmensen.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland, who has developed into a fierce fighter for the Penguins, was scratched in favor of Ben Lovejoy, but Lovejoy picked up the reins and fought Florida's Shawn Matthias at 11:22 of the first period.
The Penguins came out of the first period with a 17-8 edge in shots and with a point each from nine players.
It turns out the fight was just a warmup for Lovejoy, who scored the first goal of his career in his 31st NHL game at 6:19 of the second period to make it 4-1. He intercepted a clearing pass attempt by Florida's Dennis Wideman off the boards on the far side of the right circle and bounced the puck off of Wideman and past Clemmensen.
Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Johnson in the Penguins' net for the start of the third period. Johnson, who stopped 20 shots after giving up the goal, apparently got hurt when he got hit by Florida's Evgeny Dadonov with 1:53 left in the second period. Dadonov got a goaltender interference penalty.
Lovejoy left with 3:46 left in regulation when he got hit in the face by a shot launched by Florida's Bryan McCabe.
McCabe then scored on a screened shot from the left point to make it 4-2 at 16:24 of the third period.
Pascal Dupuis added an empty-net goal for the Penguins with 27.3 seconds left.
The Penguins play Thursday night at Washington.