Sens blow three-goal lead, fall to Crosby, Pens in SO

OTTAWA -- Sidney Crosby is making crucial contributions to the Pittsburgh Penguins' offense despite enduring one of the worst scoring slumps of his young career.

Crosby scored his third shootout goal in four games and Pittsburgh overcame a three-goal deficit for a 5-4 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

Elias Says

Jordan Staal
Jordan Staal's shorthanded goal spurred the Penguins' third-period comeback from a 4-1 deficit and Pittsburgh went on to a 5-4 shootout victory in Ottawa. Staal's goal was his seventh shorthanded goal of the season -- the most by any rookie in NHL history. The old record of six was shared by Gerry Minor (with Vancouver in 1980-81) and John Madden (with the Devils in 1999-2000).

The last time that the Penguins earned a road win after overcoming a third-period deficit of three or more goals was on Oct. 15, 1991, when they overcame a 6-2 Islanders' lead to take a 7-6 decision in overtime on Long Island. (Mario Lemieux had two goals during that comeback, while Mark Recchi, Jaromir Jagr and Phil Bourque added the others.)

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Despite being held without a point for the fourth time in five games, Crosby scored on Pittsburgh's third shot against Ray Emery, who made a glove save off Evgeni Malkin after Erik Christensen beat him on the Penguins' first shootout attempt.

"I'm trying to [contribute] any way I can," Crosby said. "Obviously that's the easier way but you get a chance where basically, you score, you win, kind of thing. So I've had that opportunity a couple of times and I've tried to take advantage of it.

"Hopefully the time will come when I'll be able to do it five-on-five and in regulation, and obviously in the shootouts, when I need it," he said.

Jocelyn Thibault stopped Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette before Dean McAmmond scored on Ottawa's third attempt, forcing Crosby's decisive attempt.

"You just kind of wait to see what he does, try to be as patient as you can," Emery said. "I wasn't patient enough."

Crosby scored the winner in Thursday's 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers. He also scored in the shootout Sunday as Christensen got the winner in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia.

"I know before Christmas he was having a hard time scoring in the shootout but we stuck with it and he practiced a lot," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "When the game's on the line those are the type of players you want to see performing and there's no doubt he's performing really well in the shootout."

Crosby, who leads the NHL with 98 points, was held without a point for the second straight game. The 19-year-old phenom has one assist -- his 200th career point -- in five games, matching the worst slump of his career.

"It's different when you're not getting chances or you're not able to create things, that's probably the most frustrating, but I think the chances have been there," said Crosby, who had eight shots in the game, including six in the first period. "It's just a matter of you're not getting breaks and getting some bad bounces. You go through those times and hope they'll last as short as possible."

Jordan Staal scored his NHL-leading seventh shorthanded goal before he assisted on Ryan Malone's tying tally as Pittsburgh scored three times within 2:48 midway through the third to even it at 4.

After Staal beat Emery with an unassisted effort for his 27th of the season 9:22 into the third, Gary Roberts scored for the second straight game at 11:02 to cut Ottawa's lead to 4-3.

The 18-year-old Staal earned his ninth assist as Malone completed the comeback with his 14th goal at 12:10.

"We're a team that never quits," Therrien said. "I thought Jordan Staal's goal gave us some life. That was a huge goal. It's pretty amazing what that kid is capable of doing."

Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong opened the scoring with his ninth goal on the Penguins' fourth shot 5:56 in.

Mike Fisher, Christoph Schubert and Chris Kelly followed with three straight first-period goals for Ottawa, which chased Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury after the opening period despite being outshot 10-7.

Heatley beat Thibault for his team-leading 41st goal 4:32 into the second. The Senators' second power-play goal made it 4-1.

Daniel Alfredsson had two assists for the Senators, who lost their third in a row (0-1-2).

"We needed a big save or a big goal, or something, but it seems like the other team's been making the big plays later on in the game," Emery said.Game notes
Thibault stopped 15-of-16 shots. ... Staal, who was chosen second in last June's draft, had 28 goals last season in junior hockey with Peterborough. ... Crosby was also held to one assist in five games last season from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2005, including his only three-game stretch without a point. ... Crosby has two assists in five games against Ottawa. ... Senators center Jason Spezza was a late scratch because of a sore back.