Letang, Crosby lead Penguins’ comeback win against Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ star players came through for a comeback win.
Kris Letang had two goals and an assist, including the winning score on a power play in overtime, and Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists to lift the Penguins over the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-0, Pittsburgh scored twice in the final 5:04 of regulation to tie the game and had the winner in overtime, and Crosby and Letang were involved in all three goals.
In the extra session, Crosby passed across to Letang in the left circle and his one-timer beat Luongo on the stick side 1:27 in.
“I?know he’s got great vision,” Letang said. “I?saw them kind of pushing with two guys, so it opened the back door. He made a great play.”
Trailing 2-1, Pittsburgh tied it on Crosby’s late goal. Letang’s shot bounced off Crosby in the side of the crease and into the net with 1:15 left in regulation.
The Penguins closed to 2-1 on Letang’s first goal. Crosby passed from the boards to Letang in the left circle, and Letang’s shot beat Luongo.
“Those two guys put the team on their backs tonight,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They raised their level at a critical time in the game. I?thought those two guys were terrific tonight.”
The Penguins won for the fifth time in six games, snapping the Panthers five-game win streak. Jeff Zatkoff made 40 saves.
“This was a real gut check for our team. It’s a testament to the character that we have and leadership that we have,” Sullivan said.
Jussi Jokinen and a goal and an assist and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo stopped 32 shots.
The assist by Crosby on Letang’s first goal was his 900th career point, the 10th-fastest to reach the milestone. Crosby finished the game with 902 points, joining Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr as the only three Penguins to record at least 900.
“They found a way to get that first goal and then they get a lucky break, their great player deflects the puck,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We call it lucky, but he’s pretty good. They found a way to come back and get two points against us.”
Barkov’s short-handed goal with 10:45 left in the third stretched the Panthers’ lead to 2-0. Barkov got free in the middle, took a pass from Jokinen along the boards and backhanded the puck past Zatkoff.
The goal seemed to seal the win for the Panthers, but the Penguins had other ideas.
“We just stuck with it after that short-handed goal,” Crosby said. “We kept fighting and found ways to generate chances and get ourselves back in the game.”
Jokinen put the Panthers ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal at 6:03 of the second. Jokinen shot from below the left circle almost at the goal line. His bad-angle shot ricocheted off Zatkoff’s stick and went high into the net. Jokinen has a point in six straight games.
The Panthers took 20 shots in the first period, a season high.
NOTES: Crosby has 10 goals and eight assists during a 10-game point streak. ... Penguins C Evgeni Malkin missed his second game with a lower-body injury. ... The Panthers have recorded a power-play goal in five consecutive games. ... Panthers D Brent Regner made his NHL debut. The 26-year-old Regner replaced Erik Gudbranson, who missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... The sellout crowd of 20,295 is a season-high for the Panthers and the third-largest in team history.