UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) – Sidney Crosby had his first two-goal game in the NHL and set up another Pittsburgh score, and the Penguins rode a rare early lead to a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Crosby, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, had a goal and an assist in the first period and then scored again in the third off a brilliant pass from Mario Lemieux for his second three-point game in 13 contests. Crosby has at least one point in all but two games.

The 18-year-old phenom gave the Penguins the lead just 4:40 in and then set up Mark Recchi’s fourth goal to make it 2-0 at 15:27. Crosby pushed the lead to 5-1 at 4:01 of the third when he cut to the net to receive Lemieux’s pass that sailed over the stick of Islanders defenseman Alexei Zhitnik. The rookie knocked the puck out of mid air for his fourth of the season – third on the power play.

Crosby even took a holding penalty in the second period after he went back at defenseman Janne Niinimaa along the side wall. Once the whistle blew, Ryan Malone quickly came to Crosby’s defense.

Pittsburgh scored the first goal for only the second time this season. The Penguins hadn’t enjoyed a 2-0 advantage in their first 12 contests – six of which went to overtime. They have won three of four after losing their first nine games (0-4-5).

Erik Christensen, who made his NHL debut in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win at New Jersey, scored his first goal and John LeClair made it 4-1 in the final minute of the second period. Rookie defenseman Ryan Whitney, who also debuted against the Devils, had three assists to give him four in two games. Lemieux added three assists.

Sebastien Caron made 22 saves in his fourth consecutive start as he continues to wrest the No. 1 goalie position away from Jocelyn Thibault. The Penguins have three games left on their longest trip of the season, a five-game excursion that will also take them to Boston, the New York Rangers and Atlanta.

Rick DiPietro, the first goalie ever drafted No. 1, was the lone bright spot for the Islanders, who have dropped three of four and four of six. DiPietro stopped 28 shots after sitting out New York’s overtime victory against Boston on Tuesday because of a sore knee.

Islanders captain Alexei Yashin gave New York brief hope when he scored his eighth of the season, cutting the deficit to 2-1 with 6:20 left in the middle period. But Christensen restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead 2:03 later. LeClair made it 4-1 with 37.3 seconds remaining.

It could’ve been even worse for the Islanders if not for DiPietro, who stopped several deflected, redirected, and one-timed shots – many set up or taken by the line of Crosby, Lemieux and Recchi.

New York lost two of three on its homestand, falling to 4-3 at Nassau Coliseum.

Notes: Crosby, the rookie of the month in October, has four goals and 14 assists on the season. … The Islanders (6-7) have allowed at least five goals four times in 13 games. … Penguins D Rob Scuderi, from nearby Syosset where the Islanders practice, expected about 20 family members and friends to be in attendance. He has not recorded a point in four career games against New York. … Pittsburgh also scored first in a 7-6 OT loss to Boston on Oct. 8. The Penguins have been ahead in only six games.

AP-ES-11-03-05 2139EST


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