Crosby scores two goals as Penguins beat Hurricanes, 4-2
March 17, 2016 11:25 PM
SidneyCrosby scored two goals, including the winner, in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory against Carolina at Consol Energy Center Thursday night, extending his scoring streak to 10 games.
Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack makes save on Penguins winger Carl Hagelin Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby isn’t going to win his third NHL scoring championship this season.
Probably won’t have to clear space on his mantle for another Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, either.
But that doesn’t mean 2015-16 will be a write-off for him.
Not when trying to hoist the Penguins into the playoffs — as Crosby clearly seems intent on doing — remains a challenge as they enter their final dozen games of the regular season.
“He’s our captain,” left winger Carl Hagelin said. “He’s our leader. He’s a game-changer, which he was today.”
Crosby scored two goals, including the winner, in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory against Carolina at Consol Energy Center Thursday night, extending his scoring streak to 10 games.
His first, on a sensational individual effort, helped the Penguins to rebound from a miserable start, and his second — which he scored from one knee by deflecting in an Ian Cole feed — put them in front to stay late in the second period.
“Cole made a great play,” Crosby said. “He picked his head up, sold a shot and I just tried to get my stick on it.”
It worked. As did just about everything Crosby did in this game, when he was force all over the ice.
“Sid’s playing at both ends of the rink for us now,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “Has been for some time.”
The victory was the Penguins’ fourth in a row and raised their record to 38-24-8. They continue to hold the first wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, with a three-point lead on Detroit and a four-point edge on Philadelphia.
The Flyers, whom the Penguins will face Saturday at 1:08 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center, have a game in hand and are 8-1-1 in their past 10.
While the stakes in Philadelphia will be high, they would have been downright staggering if the Penguins hadn’t managed to overcome a terrible start against the Hurricanes.
Just 42 seconds after the opening faceoff, Carolina’s Phillip DiGiuseppe picked off a Chris Kunitz pass and turned it into a goal, and Riley Nash made it 2-0 at 5:10.
“Probably the opposite of how we drew [the early minutes] up,” Cole said.
Rookie goalie Matt Murray, making his first start since March 6, was victimized by his team’s poor play in its own zone, but didn’t get rattled by it.
“That’s the ebbs and flows of hockey,” he said. “Our job as goalies is to try to make the saves when there’s a lapse, defensively. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to those two times early, but I bounced back pretty well, I thought.
“Once the puck goes in, there’s nothing you can do about it. They’re not going to take it off the scoreboard. You just have to put it behind you.”
The Penguins ended up launching 22 shots at Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack before the first intermission and finished the game with a season-high 48.
“We made some mistakes, and they capitalized on our mistakes,” Hagelin said. “That’s hockey at times. We relaxed a little bit, and then we got going.”
Once that happened, the Penguins didn’t stop until they had raised their record inside the Metropolitan Division to 13-7-2. That’s a dramatic upgrade from last season, when they finished 9-17-4 against divisional opponents.
“You have to win within your division, otherwise you’re not going to make the playoffs,” Hagelin said. “We’re doing a good job of that, and we’re going to have to keep winning if we’re going to have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Of course, having Crosby on the payroll doesn’t hurt.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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