PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is feeling more and more at home in new Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan's system -- especially on home ice.
Crosby scored three consecutive goals to extend his recent scoring surge and rally the Penguins to their fourth consecutive victory, 6-5 over the slumping Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Crosby's natural hat trick was the ninth three-goal game of his career, gave him at least one goal in eight consecutive games at Consol Energy Center and assured him of his ninth 20-goal season in his 11 NHL seasons.
The Penguins took 44 shots against Senators goalie Craig Anderson in winning their fifth in six games, a turnaround under Sullivan that coincides with scoring upticks by Crosby -- whose production was well below his career norms early in the season -- center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang.
"He's been a dominant factor for a while," linemate Chris Kunitz said of Crosby. "When he gets the confidence going, it makes other guys on the ice feel better It's nice to know that he's out there, collecting pucks and always finding the right guy or being in the right spot."
Crosby had a four-point night as the Penguins opened leads of 2-0 and 3-1, only to be forced to rally to win after Ottawa scored three goals in less than four minutes.
Malkin had two assists, Letang added a goal and an assist, left winger Kunitz returned from a two-game injury layoff with a goal and two assists, and center Matt Cullen scored a goal as the Penguins -- one of the league's lowest-scoring teams for much of the season -- scored at least four goals for the fifth time in seven games.
"They've got talented players -- they've got some of the top high-end guys not just on their team, but the entire league," said Senators right winger Mark Stone, who had a goal and an assist. "Those are guys that maybe, early in the game, you've got to take their will away. You can't let them freelance for the first 10 minutes and that gave them a lot of confidence."
Crosby, who has 14 of his 20 goals for the season in his last 16 games, scored the final two goals of the second period after Ottawa rallied to go ahead 4-3. Crosby finished off his first hat trick since Oct. 12, 2013, by scoring at 6:40 of the third, giving him 12 goals in his last eight home games.
"There are nights you have a ton of chances and it doesn't go in, (so) to get them in bunches is nice --especially in a game like that that's high scoring and you pretty much know the last one is going to win it," Crosby said.
The Senators, losing their fourth in five games to fall five points behind Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference playoff race, cut it to 6-5 on left winger Dave Dziurzynski's first goal since Feb. 25, 2013, at 15:50, but couldn't tie it.
Senators center Mike Hoffman twice put shots off the crossbar in the closing minutes. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury kissed the crossbar following a stoppage in play after Hoffman again hit the bar with seconds remaining.
"It's tough to win a game when you give up six goals," said Senators defenseman Cody Ceci, who also had a goal and as assist. "We gave up a few early and kind of killed the game right off the start."
The Senators overcame an early goal and an assist by Kunitz and Anderson's shaky early play to score three goals in a span of 3:56 -- two only 24 seconds apart early in the second period -- to take a 4-3 lead.
Defenseman Chris Wideman's seemingly harmless wrist shot from above the right circle with 31 seconds left in the first period eluded Fleury by flying under the crossbar, cutting it to 3-2.
Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau pushed defenseman Erik Karlsson's shot across the goal line with the teams skating 4-on-4 at 3:01 of the second -- his 12th goal. Ceci gave Ottawa its first lead by poking in left winger Zach Smith's shot amid a flurry in front of the net at 3:25.
But Crosby's one-timer from the right circle eluded Anderson with the Penguins on their first power play of the game at 6:10. Crosby gave the lead back to Pittsburgh at 5-4 off a rebound of Phil Kessel's shot from the right circle at 16:45 of the second. Crosby also assisted on Letang's seventh goal, in the first period.
NOTES: The Penguins played the final 1 1/2 periods without C Eric Fehr, who was being treated after the game for a lower-body injury, according to coach Mike Sullivan. ... Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin was ill and wasn't behind the bench. ... Ottawa Senators D Marc Methot sat out a sixth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. He last played Jan. 16. ... The Penguins' postponed Jan. 24 game at Washington (snow) was rescheduled for March 1. ... Penguins RW/LW Beau Bennett (right shoulder) still is not ready to play. He aggravated the injury Jan. 23. ... Pittsburgh recalled LW Conor Sheary and LW Scott Wilson from its Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) farm club. ... Ottawa scratched Methot and C Kyle Turris. ... The Penguins held out D Ian Cole, LW Sergei Plotnikov and Sheary.