Sidney Crosby reached the exclusive 50 goal plateau for the first time in his career, scoring goals No. 50 and No. 51 in the Penguins 6-5 overtime win over the New York Islanders on Sunday evening.
Jordan Leopold scored at 4:25 of overtime for the Penguins (47-28-7, 101 pts) who have recorded their 6th-100 point season in team history. The Penguins enter the playoffs as the No. 4 seed for the second straight season and surpassed their point total from last season (99 pts).
Crosby scored at 17:03 of the first period to record goal No. 50 and netted No. 51 just 55 seconds in the second period.
It was a milestone game for Crosby, earning a share of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy that goes to the NHL’s goal-scoring champion.
Crosby and Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning tied for the NHL lead with 51 goals each. There is no tiebreaker for the Richard Trophy, so both Crosby and Stamkos are considered co-winners.
Crosby is the first Penguins player to win the Richard Trophy since the inception of the award in 1998-99.
He becomes only the second Penguin ever to lead the NHL in goals – joining Mario Lemieux, who was the league goal-scoring champion three times, in 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1995-96.
Crosby is the eighth Penguin in history to hit the 50-goal mark, along with Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Stevens, Rick Kehoe, Pierre Larouche, Jean Pronovost and Mike Bullard.
Crosby also added three assists in the win, giving him 109 points on the season and finishing second behind Henrik Sedin in the points race who has claimed the Art Ross Trophy with 112 points.
Crosby had 5 points mid-way through the second in the period and was making a late push at catching Sedin in the points race.
With Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Alexei Ponikarovsky all missing from action, Bylsma reconfigured his lines, playing Evgeni Malkin on Crosby’s right wing.
The move paid off as Malkin had a superb game, scoring two goals and adding two assists along with a team-high 7 shots on goal. Malkin had points in 21 of his last 25 games to finish the regular season.
Eric Godard scored his first goal of the season at 6:35 of the first period. Brent Johnson made 33 saves to record the win.
Matt Cooke (upper body), Alexei Ponikarovsky (suspension), Chris Kunitz (shoulder) and Brooks Orpik (leg) were scratched for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins fully expect Cooke and Orpik to be available for game 1. Orpik would have played against New York if today was a playoff game.
Top prospect Eric Tangradi made his NHL debut, recording 3 shots on goal in 13:49 of ice time. Tangradi had a strong third period. He is expected to be re-assigned to Wilkes Barre/Scranton on Monday morning.
A team source indicates prior to today’s callup, Tangradi had already been tabbed as one of 4-to-5 players that would be added to the Penguins playoff roster when Wilkes Barre is out of the playoffs. Dustin Jeffrey, Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland are the others.
The Penguins will host the fifth-seeded Ottawa Senators in their opener. The Penguins were 2-2 against Ottawa this season. The Senators finished the regular season 7-2-1 in their final 10 games.
The playoff schedule will be announced shortly after 10:00 p.m.
Eastern Conference Matchups
1. Washington vs 8. Montreal
2. New Jersey vs 7. Philadelphia
3. Buffalo vs 6. Boston
4. Pittsburgh vs 5. Ottawa