Sidney Crosby, Canada's Olympic hero, scored his first two goals since the Winter Games to leap into the lead in the NHL scoring race and help his Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 on Saturday. Six days after his overtime goal pushed Canada past the United States for the host nation's record-setting 14th and final gold medal in Vancouver, Crosby netted his 43rd and 44th goals of the NHL season.
Crosby, the 22-year-old Penguins captain, had been level with Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goals lead with 42 before the Olympic break. Pittsburgh, the Stanley Cup holders, took a 4-3 lead with 3:13 remaining in the second period when Crosby, standing behind the goalline and to the right of the net, banked in a shot off Trevor Daley, the Dallas defenceman. He struck again 95 seconds into the third period with a short-handed goal.
"Today was just a matter of trying to regroup and respond after a not-so-good first half," Crosby said. "They were kind of different scenarios, but we came out in the second half, especially today, and tried to be a lot better. We got rewarded with some goals for it." Alexei Ponikarovsky, the former Toronto player, scored on his Penguins debut while Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis also found the net as Pittsburgh's win streak since the Olympics was extended to three.
The Penguins, the Atlantic division leaders, moved to second in the Eastern Conference behind the Washington Capitals, who were also victorious as they saw off the New York Rangers 2-0. Eric Belanger scored his first goal for the Capitals as the NHL overall leaders stretched their club-record home winning streak to 13 games. With Ovechkin, the two-time league MVP, mired in his longest goal drought of the season - six games - the Capitals are finding scoring elsewhere.
Eric Fehr put in his 17th goal of the season during a five-on-three in the first period, and Belanger doubled the lead in the second period. Jose Theodore made 30 saves for his first shutout in nearly a year. * With agencies