PITTSBURGH (AP) – Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby beat Jose Theodore with a backhander for the only goal in the first shootout in Montreal Canadiens history and Pittsburgh recovered after losing a two-goal lead for a 3-2 victory Thursday night.

Crosby got a goal that counted in regulation and so did Mario Lemieux on the next shift after he lay prone on the ice after being hit by a stick. Jocelyn Thibault – previously winless – turned aside 30 shots in easily his best game of the season.

Thibault, facing wave after wave of shooters in the third period and overtime, also stopped Michael Ryder, Alex Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin in the shootout to deny Montreal an Eastern Conference-leading 13th victory.

After Theodore, looking for 11th victory, stopped Mark Recchi and Lemieux, he came out early to challenge Crosby, but the rookie skated to the right of the crease and switched from forehand to backhand for the Penguins’ first shootout victory.

Pittsburgh, 5-0 losers Wednesday in Atlanta and playing its third game in four nights, ended Montreal’s five-game winning streak.

Montreal, down 2-0 in the first after the Crosby and Lemieux goals, tied it on rookie Chris Higgins’ one-timer from the right circle off Andrei Markov’s excellent pass with 31/2 minutes left in the third following a long penalty kill. Steve Begin was ejected and drew a five-minute penalty for leveling Maxime Talbot with an elbow, but Recchi shortened the power play by taking an interference penalty midway through it.

Rangers 5, Lightning 2

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Dominic Moore scored twice during New York’s four-goal third period and the Rangers sent the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to their fifth straight loss with a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist had 23 saves for the Rangers, who have won four consecutive road games. Moore scored the tying goal Wednesday with three seconds left in regulation and New York went on to beat Florida 4-3 in a shootout.

Jason Ward ended a 14-game goal scoring drought to give New York a 2-1 lead at 4:40 of the third. Ward scored on the rebound after Lightning goalie John Grahame made a pad save on Blair Betts’ shot. Moore had a power-play goal at 7:18 before making it 4-2 on a breakaway backhander with 4:12 remaining.

Marcel Hossa ended the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute, helping the Rangers (10-5-3) go five games over .500 for the first time since Dec. 31, 2001.

Dan Boyle pulled Tampa Bay within 3-2 on a power-play goal with 8:47 left. The Lightning’s losing streak is their longest since they dropped six straight – including an overtime defeat to start it – from March 24-April 3, 2002.

Flyers 3, Islanders 2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Patrick Sharp scored two goals, including the tiebreaker early in the third period, and the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the New York Islanders 3-2 Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists, and Antero Niittymaki made 38 saves for the Flyers, who have won eight straight at home.

Miroslav Satan and Mike York scored power-play goals in the first period to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead. New York held a 40-30 shots advantage including 20-5 in the first period.

Sharp put Philadelphia ahead 3-2 with a slap shot from the right circle. He cut the Flyers’ early deficit in half 3:35 into the second period when he fired a shot from almost the same spot.

The Islanders scored twice in a 37-second span in the first period.

With New York skating with a 5-on-3 advantage, Satan took a centering pass from Alexei Yashin and one-timed a shot past Niittymaki at 14:39.

York scored on a slap shot from just inside the blue line at 15:16 with the puck bouncing off Flyers defenseman Joni Pitkanen and into the net.

Niittymaki, making his first start since allowing seven goals in an 8-6 loss at Carolina on Oct. 28, was sensational early. He stopped Mark Parrish on a breakaway and then turned away Jason Blake’s rebound attempt in the opening minutes. Later, he made a sprawling save on Parrish’s close-in attempt.

Blackhawks 4, Blues 2

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Jim Vandermeer scored two goals, one tapped in by a hapless opponent, to help the Chicago Blackhawks run the St. Louis Blues’ franchise-record losing streak to 10 with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night.

Mark Bell also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won two straight for the first time in 41 games.

They’re near the bottom of the NHL with 12 points, five more than the league-worst Blues, including an overtime victory in St. Louis on Nov. 2.

The losing streak for the Blues, who were stripped down before the season to help team owners sell the franchise, is two games longer than the previous worst. Their 2-11-3 start is their worst since 1977-78 when they were 2-10-2. They’ve been outscored 46-25 since their last victory on Oct. 19 and were unsuccessful on three 5-on-3 power plays, one negated by Scott Young’s holding penalty 11 seconds later.

Vandermeer’s fourth goal of the season, a shot from the point through traffic midway through the second period, put the Blackhawks ahead to stay at 3-2.

He got credit for an unassisted goal midway through the first when Mark Rycroft accidentally tapped the puck past surprised goalie Patrick Lalime while trying to skate it out of trouble.

Rycroft scored one for the Blues, too, and Doug Weight also scored on a deflection that ended a 2-for-26 power-play slump.

Rycroft’s rebound shot at 3:07 of the first period gave the Blues the game’s first goal for the first time in five games, after they had trailed 2-0 in each of the last four. But Bell tied it 11 seconds later with a wrist shot on a power play. Chicago then took the lead on Rycroft’s gaffe at 10:45.


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