PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby ended his march to 1,000 career points in typically unselfish fashion.
The Penguins star wasted little time before starting his quest for the next thousand.
The Pittsburgh captain fed Chris Kunitz for a first-period goal against Winnipeg on Thursday to become the 86th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point plateau, added an assist on Phil Kessel’s game-tying goal in the third and then put the winner past Connor Hellebuyck with 21 seconds left in overtime as the Penguins escaped with a 4-3 victory.
Crosby finished with three points to push his total 1,002. Evgeni Malkin also scored for Pittsburgh, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 44 shots for the Penguins, who improved to 6-0-2 since the All-Star break.
Patrik Laine scored his 27th for Winnipeg. Paul Postma collected his first and Dustin Byfuglien his eighth for the Jets. Hellebuyck made 35 saves, but couldn’t get a handle on Crosby’s 31st of the season and the 369th goal of his career.
Crosby insisted as the milestone approached that he’d be happy once it was out of the way so the focus could swing back to Pittsburgh’s chase of first-place Washington in the relentlessly competitive Metropolitan Division. His sprint to the mark turned into a slow jog during a rare two-game scoreless drought and inched closer with an assist in a victory over Vancouver on Tuesday to give him 999.
History came in typically symbolic fashion for one of the game’s best playmakers.
Crosby reached it in his 757th game – the quickest among active players –not with some breathtaking move, but by simply outworking an opponent. Crosby beat Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler to a loose puck in the left circle. Crosby collected himself, then slipped a pass to Kunitz wide open in the slot. Kunitz powered it into the open net, the 186th time the pair have factored in a goal together.
SENATORS 3, DEVILS 0: Mike Condon made 21 saves in recording his fifth shutout of the season, Dion Phaneuf scored on a power play and Ottawa won at Newark, New Jersey.
Phaneuf broke a scoreless tie with a rocket from the left point with 1:59 left in the second period.
Erik Karlsson scored on a point shot that crawled into the net and Kyle Turris shot into an empty net in the final four minutes to give the Senators their third win in four games.
ISLANDERS 4, RANGERS 2: Andrew Ladd scored twice to lead the host Islanders past the crosstown-rival Rangers.
Anders Lee and Nikolay Kulemin also scored, and Thomas Greiss stopped 25 shots to help the Islanders improve to 8-0-2 in their last 10 at home. John Tavares had two assists.
Nick Holden and Jimmy Vesey scored for the Rangers, whose six-game winning streak was snapped.
SABRES 2, AVALANCHE 0: Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane scored, and Robin Lehner made 23 saves for his fifth career shutout as Buffalo won at home to move within three points of Toronto for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
BLUES 4, CANUCKS 3: Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen scored third-period power-play goals to lift streaking St. Louis at home.
Magnus Paajarvi and Jori Lehtera also scored, and Kevin Shattenkirk had three assists for the Blues, who won their sixth straight game.
WILD 3, STARS 1: Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 shots, Erik Haula had a goal and an assist and Minnesota won at home.
Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon also scored for the Western Conference leaders. Minnesota hasn’t lost consecutive games in over two months.
DUCKS: The league suspended forward Antoine Vermette for 10 games for slashing a linesman in apparent anger after a faceoff on Tuesday.