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Crosby's dazzling goal highlights Penguins' win over rival Devils

| Monday, March 26, 2012

Sidney Crosby's evening started with an embarrassing turnover that led to a New Jersey goal.

He spent the rest of Sunday night embarrassing the Devils.

Crosby toyed with New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky much of the evening and scored one of the signature goals of his career in a 5-2 victory over the Devils.

The victory pulls the Penguins within a point of the first-place New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings.

Following the game, however, most of the Penguins found themselves talking about Crosby's goal at the 4:55 mark, as opposed to the standings.

"Great goal," coach Dan Bylsma said. "A big goal for us. It's not unlike Sidney Crosby to pull that off."

The Devils had pulled within a goal early in the third period, and the Penguins were attempting to fend off their charge when Crosby scored the most spectacular goal of his limited season.

With the puck sent in Crosby's direction, Zidlicky aggressively went for an interception.

Crosby, though, was a step ahead of the play. With just his right hand on the stick, Crosby, while skating backward, redirected the puck past Zidlicky and across the blue line at a perfect speed that allowed him to stay onside.

"Special play," right wing Pascal Dupuis said. "Special, special play."

With Zidlicky still skating in the wrong direction, Crosby found himself facing New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur in a showdown between future Hall of Famers.

Crosby scored easily, burying a shot between Brodeur's legs.

"I think I was probably caught too far ahead of the play, and that was my only chance really getting it by him," Crosby said.

Perhaps even more important than the play Crosby made was a comment that he made following the game. On the play, Crosby left himself extremely vulnerable to receiving a big hit from Zidlicky, as he was forced to open up his entire body while stretching for the puck.

That Crosby put himself in harm's way perhaps indicates that he is feeling more comfortable with his health. He has only played 15 games this season because of concussion issues, and has 25 points.

"You're really taking a gamble there," he said. "If he ends up taking the body, you're not really in great position to absorb a hit. But I was able to get my stick on it a couple of times and was happy to finally put one in there."

Crosby, in fact, made an identical move on Zidlicky in the second period, and it worked to perfection. On that occasion, Brodeur made a spectacular save on Crosby's slap shot from close range.

This time, Crosby had a more clear lane to the net and made no mistake, easily beating Brodeur, who did not fall to his customary butterfly position on the play.

"That was pretty spectacular," Penguins defenseman Paul Martin said.

Crosby's play in the first period wasn't so spectacular. After Evgeni Malkin had stripped Brodeur of a puck and set up Chris Kunitz for the game's opening goal, Crosby returned the favor. He sent a pass in front of his own net while goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was out of position. New Jersey star Zach Parise pounced on the pass and evened the game.

"It was a risky play," Crosby said.

According to Fleury, all is forgiven.

"That doesn't happen too often," said Fleury, who noted that Crosby's pass was perfect, if only to the wrong team.

"That's why I like having him on my team," Fleury said.

The Devils simply gave Crosby and the Penguins too many chances.

"They're too good," Parise said. "Give them a chance, and they'll make you pay."

Scoring summary

First period

Penguins, 1-0 (1:04): C Evgeni Malkin stripped G Martin Brodeur of the puck behind the net and spotted LW Chris Kunitz, who scored into the empty cage.

Devils, 1-1 (5:10): C Sidney Crosby took a pass from G Marc-Andre Fleury and then turned the puck over in front of his net, allowing RW Zach Parise to score into an empty net.

Penguins, 2-1 (19:04): An inspired shift from C Jordan Staal ultimately resulted in a turnover, which was collected by LW Matt Cooke. Staal received a pass from Cooke and buried a wrist shot past Brodeur's stick side.

Second period

Penguins, 3-1 (15:34): Crosby set up RW Craig Adams on a two-on-one, and though his shot was stopped, RW Pascal Dupuis was there to bang in the rebound.

Third period

Penguins, 3-2 (3:37): C Travis Zajac passed cross-crease to LW Ilya Kovalchuk, who buried a shot inside the left post.

Penguins, 4-2 (4:55): Crosby slipped the puck around D Marek Zidlicky near the Devils' blueline and beat Brodeur on a breakaway.

Penguins, 5-2 (18:28): Malkin scored into an empty net with a wrist shot from just inside the red line.

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