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December 4, 2013

NHL: Crosby ties it in 3rd, wins it in OT for Pens

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal in the third period and then won it with a brilliant individual effort 3:44 into overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who tied it with a power-play goal with 12:00 left in regulation, stole the puck from Thomas Vanek just outside the New York blue line, streaked down the middle between two defenseman and jammed a backhander past Anders Nilsson for his 15th goal.

Nilsson was the hard-luck loser in overtime for the second straight game. New York, which has dropped seven straight (0-5-2), gave up the lead late to Washington on Saturday.

Evgeni Malkin assisted on power-play goals by James Neal and Crosby to back Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 21 saves. His best stop came on Frans Nielsen’s penalty shot in the third when New York led 2-1.

Kyle Okposo scored twice in the first period for the Islanders, who are third from the bottom in the East.

The Penguins (19-9-1) moved one point ahead of idle Boston atop the Eastern Conference with their fourth straight win, all on a perfect road trip.

Pittsburgh’s potent power play, ranked No. 1 in the NHL, got the Penguins back in the game. Neal connected in the final seconds of the second period, and Crosby tied it in the third.

Both goals were set up by Malkin.

Nilsson earned his second straight start — and second of the season — and nearly pulled out the win. He held off the Penguins long enough for New York to salvage a point in the standings.

John Tavares assisted on both of Okposo’s goals. Nilsson made 31 saves.

Okposo hadn’t scored in eight games but he broke out with two during a 4:35 span of the first and nearly netted a third before the intermission. He backhanded a shot from the bottom of the left circle into the crease. The puck and Tavares, along with Crosby and Kris Letang of the Penguins all arrived on Fleury’s doorstep at the same time. It found its way in off of Letang to make it 1-0 with 7:05 left.

Okposo got even more help on his second goal, which was his eighth of the season. He wound up from above the right circle and ripped a drive that struck Fleury and then squeezed under his left arm before trickling behind him with 2:30 to go.

Pittsburgh had a chance to cut into its deficit late in the frame when Vanek and Aaron Ness took penalties 1:17 apart, giving the Penguins a two-man advantage that lasted the final 37.3 seconds of the first period and 5 seconds of the second.

What Pittsburgh couldn’t do in the first, it did in the second when Neal notched a power-play goal with 15.6 seconds left off a feed in front from Malkin, who extended his point and assist streaks to nine games. He has 15 assists and 19 points during the run, earning star of the week and month honors in the NHL.

Neal scored his ninth goal of the season and seventh in six games to make it 2-1. He has 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in the last 13 games.

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