PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby saw a small opening and took advantage for one memorable goal.
Crosby put Pittsburgh ahead to stay with a dazzling score in the second period, and the Penguins beat the Dallas Stars 6-2 on Thursday night.
“There aren’t too many players in the league that would even think to make that type of play,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s a heads-up play by an elite player that thinks the game at an extremely high level and differently than most.”
Crosby also had two assists as Pittsburgh bounced back nicely from Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. Eric Fehr’s third goal of the season was No. 100 for his career, and Patric Hornqvist, Conor Sheary, Nick Bonino and Ian Cole also scored.
Crosby got his league-leading 16th goal in the final 30 seconds of the second. Crosby, from behind the goal, initially tried to bank a shot off Stars goaltender Antti Niemi. When that plan was unsuccessful, he batted his own rebound out of the air, off Niemi and into the net.
“I was just trying to get it to the net on the first one,” Crosby said. “The second one, it was just kind of laying there for me. It was pretty slow, so it was a good one to get.”
Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves for Pittsburgh. Fleury, who won for the first time in five starts, has six wins in his last nine home games.
He wasn’t surprised by Crosby’s goal.
“I see him do that in practice a lot on me,” Fleury said. “I was glad though because it was big for us.”
Tyler Seguin and Devin Shore scored for the Stars, who continue to struggle on the road. Niemi, playing in his 400th career game, stopped 34 shots.
Dallas has three wins in 14 road games this season. The Stars have lost three straight and seven of their last 10 overall.
“I think we all take pride in here,” Seguin said. “It’s just not good enough. It’s frustrating and we have to dig deeper, especially in those big moments and find ways to win hockey games.”
Crosby has 16 goals in 18 games after missing the first six because of a concussion. He has six goals and 12 points in his last eight games.
The Penguins are 7-0 following a regulation loss and 16-0-1 after the previous 17 regulation defeats dating to last season. Pittsburgh also snapped a four-game skid against the Stars.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were an inconsistent group throughout the majority of November, alternating wins and losses most of the month.
The Penguins hope Crosby’s goal can help turn things around in December.
“I think we expect better of ourselves every game,” Crosby said. “We’re working hard, but I still think we can execute better.”
NOTES: Stars D Stephen Johns, a Pittsburgh native, registered an assist in his first game against his hometown team. … Seguin has 13 points in his last 14 games. … Stars F Jason Spezza has 48 points in 41 career games against Pittsburgh. … Penguins F Scott Wilson replaced Jake Guentzel in the lineup. … Penguins F Chris Kunitz is skating, and getting closer to a return, but missed his sixth straight with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Trevor Daley, who played 11 seasons in Dallas, faced his former team for the first time.
Stars: Complete a four-game trip Saturday at Colorado.
Penguins: Continue a three-game home stand Saturday against Detroit.