BOSTON - Sidney Crosby doesn’t have plans to become an NHL tough guy.
“I don’t think so,” the Pittsburgh captain said Thursday night after his first NHL fight finished off a “Gordie Howe hat trick” in the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. “It’s not something I’m going to make a habit of, by any means.”
Crosby scored a goal, assisted on two by Evgeni Malkin, and dropped the gloves with Boston’s Andrew Ference for the first fight of his 194-game NHL career.
“I don’t know if it was during the whistle or during the play but I just remember him punching me and his glove came off,” Crosby said.
The 20-year-old reigning MVP helped set up Malkin’s first of the game 55 seconds in, scored his 16th of the season at 8:26, and then assisted on Malkin’s 13th as Pittsburgh jumped to a 3-0 lead.
Colby Armstrong had three assists in helping the Penguins take a 4-0 lead they couldn’t hold. Journeyman Ty Conklin, making his first start for Pittsburgh, stopped both shots in the shootout and helped his new club win for the second time in five games.
Ryan Christensen and rookie Chris Letang scored for Pittsburgh in the shootout, both beating Tim Thomas, who was making his first start after missing seven games with a groin strain.
Conklin made 41 saves through overtime, then turned aside Phil Kessel and Marco Sturm in the tiebreaker.
The Bruins rallied on late second-period goals by Sturm and P.J. Axelsson, and got even when Petteri Nokelainen and Dennis Wideman scored in the third.
Crosby fought Ference to at least a draw 5:09 into the second period. Ference, given an extra two minutes for starting the bout, had a cut over his left eye. It wasn’t clear if that was caused by a punch or Ference’s helmet.
The Bruins managed to remain the only team not to lose consecutive games in regulation, but they fell to 1-2-1 on their five-game homestand.
Sturm netted a power-play goal, and Axelsson scored during a power play. Nokelainen made it 4-3 with 6:46 left in regulation, and Wideman’s man-advantage goal with 2:55 remaining tied it. The Bruins completed their first comeback from a 4-0 deficit since April 20, 1995 — a 6-5 win over Ottawa.
“We were heading toward embarrassment there for a while but you have to give the guys credit for bouncing back and earning a point,” Boston coach Claude Julien said.
Conklin signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent in July and was recalled from the minors Dec. 6 when Marc-Andre Fleury sustained an ankle injury. He faced 41 shots in his second game with the Penguins.
“Conks was unbelievable all game,” Christensen said. “We’re happy but we have to learn from this.”
Thomas, returning from a seven-game absence due to a groin strain, was beaten by the first shot he saw. Armstrong kept the puck in the Boston zone and moved it to Crosby, who fed Malkin alone in front. Crosby then tipped home Armstrong’s pass less than eight minutes later. Malkin’s slap shot made it 3-0 at 11:53.
Christensen tipped in Ryan Whitney’s shot to push the advantage to 4-0 at 11:09 of the second, bringing boos to the Bruins from the fans.
Notes: The teams meet again Sunday in Pittsburgh. ... The Penguins finished a stretch of playing 8 of 10 on the road. Their next away game will be outside against Buffalo on New Year’s Day. ... Pittsburgh has won three straight from Boston, dating to last season, but this marked the Penguins’ 20th victory in 85 games played in Boston. ... Bruins D Andrew Alberts missed his second game with post concussion syndrome. Veteran forward Glen Murray left the game with a middle body injury and didn’t return. ... Pittsburgh D Adam Eaton was forced out late with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
PHT: Detroit will need some help against Chicago in Game 2 (1 p.m. ET), while the Sharks are down 2-0 and in a must-win game vs. the Kings (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
PHT: Sidney Crosby scored three times, surpassing 100 career playoff points, and the Penguins staved off the Senators for a win in Game 2.
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Highlights: Crosby's hat-trick leads Pens in Game 2
The Senators kept it close, but the Penguins relentless attack was just too much to handle. Sidney Crosby had a hat-trick and fueled Pittsburgh to a 4-3 win. The Pens are now up 2-0 on the Sens in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
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