Nazem Kadri scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday night with a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was a franchise record 10th straight victory at home for Toronto (40-22-7), which last lost at the Air Canada Centre on Jan. 22 to Colorado. Pittsburgh (39-26-4) came into the game having won three straight and nine of its last 12.
Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner also scored for Toronto, which had to survive a torrid start by the Pens. Patrick Marleau added an empty-net goal with 58 seconds left after Pittsburgh scored two late goals to make things interesting.
Crosby scored his 23rd of the season at 16:24 of the third with a backhand that went in off Toronto defenceman Ron Hainsey's stick. It was his 57th career point against Toronto (26 goals, 31 assists).
Patrick Hornqvist then tipped in an Evgeni Malkin blast from the point at 17:32. It was Malkin's 59th point against Toronto (19 goals, 40 assists).
The Maple Leafs, who had won 13 of 15 games before their four-game road slide, led 3-0 on nine shots midway through the contest.
It was only Toronto's second win in six games without star centre Auston Matthews, who injured his shoulder in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Islanders on Feb. 22. The Leafs were also without defenceman Nikita Zaitsev (flu).
Kadri now has 26 goals on the season, an amazing turnaround for a player who went 0-for-December. His Jan. 4 goal against San Jose ended a 12-game scoring slump dating back to Nov. 30.
The 27-year-old centre, who had a career-high 32 goals in 82 games last season, notched his sixth multi-goal game of the campaign.
Kadri and Matthews are the first two Leaf centres to score 25 goals in consecutive seasons since Darryl Sittler and Dave Keon in 1972-1973 and 1973-1974.
Tristan Jarry, a 22-year-old from Surrey, B.C., continued in goal for Pittsburgh with No. 1 Matt Murray out with a concussion. Jarry, who had won his last three starts, gave way to Casey DeSmith, making his 10th NHL appearance, to open the third after yielding four goals on 16 shots.
Toronto workhorse Frederik Andersen appeared in his 57th game in goal this season and finished with 38 saves.
Both teams were well-rested. Toronto last played Monday in Buffalo while Pittsburgh had been off since a Wednesday win in Philadelphia.
Despite the time off, Toronto looked sluggish to start. Pittsburgh bottled the Leafs up in their end and outshot them 6-0 in the first four minutes. It took Toronto 5 1/2 minutes to register a shot on goal and that was a clearance during a penalty kill.
Shot No. 2 was dangerous, however — a Marner wrist shot that Jarry managed to get a pad to.
Toronto went ahead against the run of play at 9:10 on a pretty Kapanen goal that started with a no-look pass from Josh Leivo from behind the goal to Tyler Bozak. He slid the puck over to Kapanen who buried it.
Kadri made it 2-0, tipping in a Morgan Rielly shot/pass with 47 seconds remaining in the period.
Toronto stymied the Pens' league-leading power play twice in the first period and once in the second.
The Leafs didn't put a shot on net for the first 11 minutes of the second period but took advantage of the power play at 11:35. Jarry stopped Marner's shot from the point but gave up a fat rebound that went straight to Kadri for his second.
A Brian Dumoulin goal with two minutes left in the second was waved off for goalie interference as the Pens defenceman, who was pushed into the crease by defenceman Ron Hainsey, caught Andersen's head with his arm as he went across goal before stuffing the puck in.
"2 mins for scoring. Huh?" tweeted Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn.
Marner scored on a deflected shot from the blue line on the ensuing power play, rubbing salt in the wound. It was his 19th of the season, matching his rookie total last year.
And instead of 3-1, it was 4-0.
The highlight of an uneventful third period barring the late goals was the announcement that the bumper 50-50 draw winner was some $50,000 richer.
Josh Jooris, acquired from Carolina at the trading deadline, made his Pittsburgh debut. With Bryan Rust (upper body) and Dominik Simon (lower body) hurt in the Philadelphia game, Jooris slotted into the Pens' fourth line alongside Carter Rowney, who had been a healthy scratch recently.