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Crosby scores twice, leads Penguins past Panthers 4-3
By DAN SCIFO
Instead, the defenseman lifted a saucer pass to Crosby in front of the net. No biggie. Crosby still managed to get his stick on the puck and score the game-winning goal.
Crosby scored twice, including a bad-angle deflection in the third period to lead Pittsburgh past the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday night.
"I think (Letang) needed to lift it and put a little more on it to get it towards the net, he felt like," Crosby said. "But it would've been nicer a little bit if it was on the ice."
Crosby's third goal of the season didn't surprise his coach.
"I see him do it all the time," Mike Sullivan said. "He has such great hand-eye coordination, and I think he's the best in the game in and around that net. A lot of it speaks to his skill level, but it's also his determination."
Patric Hornqvist and Greg McKegg also scored for the Penguins, who are 8-0-2 in their last 10 games against Florida - their longest stretch without a regulation loss in the history of the series.
McKegg, who scored his first goal for Pittsburgh, spent time with the Panthers the last two seasons, compiling eight points in 46 games and appearing in a playoff game in 2016.
Matt Murray stopped 43 shots for Pittsburgh. He earned his 44th win, tying Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for 10th in team history.
Huberdeau, Dadonov and Vincent Trocheck all have points in each of the Panthers' first four games.
"I think we've got to figure out that when we get into these games, you've got to give teams like this respect, but you've got to come in here and you've got to expect to get a point or two out of here," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said.
Crosby scored his second of the game at 1:59 of the third period to give Pittsburgh a two-goal cushion. He redirected Letang's pass out of midair and the puck caromed off Reimer's blocker and into the net.
Letang said he lifted the puck to give Crosby a better chance to score.
"I'm not strong on my backhand, so I thought by floating it, it gives him a better chance to beat the goalie," Letang said. "His hand-eye is outstanding, and these guys like (Evgeni Malkin) and (Crosby), you just have to put a puck towards them and they make something good happen."
Ekblad cut the Panthers' deficit to one at 6:18 of the third with a slap shot that beat Murray. The Panthers, who average 40 shots per game, hit the post in the final minute, but were unable to get the equalizer.
"It's a tough game," Huberdeau said. "They're a good team, especially at home. In the third period, we kind of played well. We had a lot of chances but we missed some chances, too. I think it could've gone either way, but it happens."
Crosby opened the scoring at 6:46 of the first period with a power-play goal. He one-timed Phil Kessel's pass from the right post.
The teams combined for three goals during a 3:05 span in the second.
Huberdeau tied it for the Panthers at 5:25 of the period, but McKegg put Pittsburgh ahead with a short-handed goal 1:15 later. Huberdeau scored his second of the game, this one on the power play, just 1:50 after McKegg's goal.
The Penguins reclaimed the lead, 3-2, at 13:36 when Hornqvist jammed a rebound behind Reimer from the top of the crease.
Crosby's third-period deflection turned out to be the winner.
"That kind of angle, you're just trying to get it towards the net any way you can," Crosby said. "It was nice to see that one go in."
NOTES: Ekblad's goal was his 100th NHL point. ... Penguins D Ian Cole, hit in the face with a puck last week against Nashville, skated on his own Saturday morning. Sullivan said Cole's next step is to join the team. ... Penguins D Olli Maatta had an assist, giving him points in a career-best four straight games.
Panthers: Play at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Penguins: At the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Updated October 14, 2017