Pittsburgh Penguins' Danton Heinen (43) trips over St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Crosby, Rodrigues rally Penguins to 5-3 win over Blues

Crosby, Rodrigues rally Penguins to 5-3 win over Blues

Pittsburgh 5 St. Louis 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins have been the NHL’s hottest team for the better part of a month. They struggled early against the St. Louis Blues. Sidney Crosby then took over.

Crosby and Evan Rodrigues scored 12 seconds apart in the third period, and the Penguins rallied for a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

“I thought he was in beast mode tonight,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When he’s playing the game that way, he’s the standard bearer for the team.”

Bryan Rust scored twice and Brock McGinn also had a goal to help the Penguins win their ninth straight — their longest since a winning 15 in a row in March 2013. It is the longest active streak in the league, tying Carolina for the longest of the season. Pittsburgh is 14-2-1 in its last 17 games.

Crosby scored his fifth, Rodrigues his 14th and McGinn his ninth, as Pittsburgh scored three in the third to erase a 3-2 deficit.

“I give our players so much credit for their resilience,” Sullivan said. “Our team has been competing hard consistently. We’re not perfect. We’re striving for it.”

Casey DeSmith stopped 13 shots, but was pulled after the Blues’ third goal. He’s allowed three goals or more in 11 of his last 14 games dating back to last season. Tristan Jarry, who recently came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, stopped all 13 shots in relief.

Brayden Schenn returned from injury to score his fifth of the season and 200th career goal for the Blues. Jordan Kyrou stayed hot with his 13th of the season, and Colton Parayko scored his fourth. Vladimir Tarasenko had two assists to extend his point streak to six games. Jordan Binnington stopped 36 shots for the Blues, who saw a two-game win streak end with their third loss in 10 games.

“We spent most of the time in our end,” Schenn said. “They’re a team that’s fast and plays hard. We have to find ways to take over.”

Crosby scored with 7:37 left in the third to tie it 3-3. Crosby, with Niko Mikkola draped on his back, cut across the crease and knocked a rebound past Binnington. Blues coach Craig Berube challenged for goaltender interference, but Crosby’s goal stood.