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Feb 15, 2024 11:25 pm

Sidney Crosby reaches milestones in Penguins win vs. Blackhawks

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Sidney Crosby scored twice and Rickard Rakell and Marcus Pettersson had two assists apiece to back a solid effort from goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic as the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins topped the slumping Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday.

The return of rookie leading scorer Connor Bedard couldn’t propel the Blackhawks, who lost their season-worst eighth straight game.

Chicago has been outscored 26-9 during the skid.

Crosby put the Blackhawks at a deficit by scoring just 15 seconds into the game. After winning the opening faceoff from Bedard, Crosby darted down the ice and redirected a Pettersson shot past Chicago goalie Arvid Soderblom.

The goal marked the ninth time Crosby has scored within the first 30 seconds of a game in his career, surpassing Bob Gainey for the most in league history.

It was also Crosby’s 406th career even-strength goal … giving him one more than Mario Lemieux to become the franchise’s career leader.

Reilly Smith gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead just more than 12 minutes later. Drew O’Connor broke up a Chicago pass, skated down the left side and dropped the puck for Smith, who guided a backhand over Soderblom.

Crosby nearly extended the Pittsburgh advantage to three goals midway through the second period, but his quick-release backhand hit the far post.

Chicago’s Philipp Kurashev scored soon after. After the Blackhawks stifled a Penguins clearing attempt, Bedard skated through the middle and found a waiting Kurashev.

Bedard, the top pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and Chicago’s leading scorer, returned a touch ahead of schedule after missing the past 14 games with a fractured jaw he suffered during a Jan. 5 loss in New Jersey.

Pittsburgh went up 3-1 at 5:51 of the third. Rakell gathered a Pettersson rebound and passed to Crosby at the side of the net, who then tallied his 30th goal of the season.

Crosby’s 30-goal season is his 12th, tied for the 11th most in NHL history.

Bryan Rust provided the final margin in the final minute with a short-handed, empty-net goal.

Nedeljkovic stopped 27 shots, while Soderblom stopped 23.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-2 on the power play compared to 0-for-1 for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh was without forward Jake Guentzel, who is expected to miss the next four weeks with an upper-body injury he sustained during the third period of Wednesday’s home loss to the Florida Panthers.

–Field Level Media

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