Pens whip Sharks; Crosby strong in 500th game
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Kunitz scored twice in a four-goal second-period burst, and Sidney Crosby hit a milestone in Pittsburgh's 5-1 victory over San Jose at CONSOL Energy Center.
Crosby's 500th career game featured the club captain recording three assists, badly needed offense after Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch, listed as day-to- day with a lower-body injury.
"Looking back I probably think about how many I've missed more than playing 500," Crosby said prior to the game. "But it's been great. It's gone by quick, that's for sure. But to get to 500 is definitely a nice number."
Pascal Dupuis, Jayson Megna and Kris Letang also tallied and James Neal picked up two helpers for the Penguins, who won a season-high fifth straight game.
Marc-Andre Fleury aided the win thanks to a season-best 44 saves.
Tomas Hertl provided the lone score for the Sharks, whose six-game win streak came to a halt despite a spirited effort. Antti Niemi lasted two periods, allowing four goals on 27 shots. Alex Stalock stopped two of the three shots he faced in the third.
"One man does not make a team, and that is a team over there," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "They've been able to recover from injury losses in the past and, in fact, some nights they even play better. Their team pulls together."
Brooks Orpik's left-point shot was redirected out of midair by Dupuis for a 1-0 game just 27 seconds into the second period, and Megna completed a 3-on-1 rush up the left wing with a blistering shot for a two-goal edge at 2:34.
Kunitz deposited a Crosby rebound on a backhander at the right post with 5:27 played for a 3-0 spread, and he lifted a chance under the crossbar from the left side seconds into a power play for a four-goal edge with 7 1/2 minutes elapsed.
"He did so many things, little things people don't always see," Kunitz said of Crosby. "He just dominated."
Hertl halted the Pens' momentum at 9:27 with his shot that squeezed through Fleury, and though San Jose kept buzzing around his crease, the veteran stopped 23 pucks in all in the period.
Letang increased the hosts' advantage to 5-1 with 3 1/2 minutes gone in the third, when his floater from the point hit the back of the net through a screen and inside the far post.
Heading into the contest, San Jose had beaten Pittsburgh in 14 of the last 16 meetings, with one tie, since April of 1998 ... Fleury's previous season high for saves was 37, against Columbus on Nov. 1 ... Crosby has scored 706 points (253 goals, 453 assists) over his eight-plus-year career, including 41 points in 30 games this season ... According to the Post-Gazette, Crosby also recorded multi-point efforts in his 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th games ... Chuck Kobasew returned to the lineup for the Penguins after a 17-game absence... The Pens head to Boston on Saturday and the Sharks play in Carolina on Friday.
12/05 23:10:03 ET