EDMONTON Stop Sidney Crosby.

Check.

Keep Evgeni Malkin off the board.

Check.

Contain Jordan Staal.

Nope.

While Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn said Sid the Kid is the face of the NHL, and Malkin played Thursday night like he had brought his own puck to the party, the Oilers held both stars without a point, but Staal, the Pittsburgh Penguins third centre, had three assists in the third period and gave his club two valuable points with a 3-2 decision at Rexall Place.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound centre set up goals by Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis in the first 10 minutes of the last period after some standout netminding from Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 33 stops, as the Pens spoiled a strong first 40 minutes by the Oilers.

"If you've got the strength there (centre) and in goal, you've got a chance to win every night," said Quinn, who felt his team deserved better, but again fell tantalizingly short as they lost their sixth game in a row and 13th in the last 14.

"Staal's the best third-line centre in the league by far and would be No. 2 on most teams -- No 1 on some, too," said Carolina Hurricanes head of pro scouting and former Ottawa Senators general manager Marshall Johnston, who was on hand to watch the Oilers take a 2-0 lead on second-period power-play goals by Andrew Cogliano and Lubomir Visnovsky.

Crosby, second in the NHL in goals with 30 and fourth in points with 57, didn't get a sniff (just three shots). While Malkin was dangerous on most of his 21 shifts, and had seven shots on Devan Dubnyk, he's now gone a frustrating 11 straight games without a goal.

Staal, who was in the running for a fourth-line Olympic team spot, was too much to handle. He's got nine points in his last eight games, and quietly has 33 on the season.

"We're not always going to crawl back and win games like this," said Staal, who did a terrific checking job against Flames captain Jarome Iginla in Calgary on Wednesday.

In a lot of ways, this was like the Washington Capitals' rally to beat the Oilers 4-2 here last month after falling behind 2-0 after 40 minutes. Fleury kept the Pens in it with a terrific poke-check on Dustin Penner's burst to the net just before Kennedy scored, and an arm save on Fernando Pisani a minute later.

"Very disappointing ... I played hard, but you have to contain guys like Staal down low. I'm not the biggest guy, but I made a couple of errors," said Cogliano, who was torn between being happy and upset at himself.

Cogliano scored for the first time in 11 games and helped set up Visnovsky's slapper by taking down Crosby with a hit, then having Mike Rupp, who outweighs him by 45 point take a senseless retaliation penalty. But he was on the ice for Kennedy's goal and Dupuis's winner.

"I thought we took the play to them for two periods and shut down Malkin and Crosby, but, as has happened all year, we had a couple of defensive coverage goals," said Cogliano, who played more (18 minutes, seven seconds) than in any of his 46 games this season, getting some power-play time, in part because Shawn Horcoff got sick after the morning skate and couldn't play.

Dubnyk, starting his third game, had no chance on Cooke's rebound, and Dupuis's winner went off his knee in the crease after Staal sent the puck there, but figured he should have had Kennedy's 20-foot shot that started the comeback.

"It caught me between my glove and my hip and might have pulled off my post. I should have probably stopped that," said Dubnyk, who made 28 saves.

There was no uneasiness in the Oilers room heading to the third, but even if the roof didn't cave in, it sagged a bit, and the Penguins counted on their foot soldiers to pull it out.

"We weren't sitting in here thinking, 'Look out.' We were pretty happy with the way we were playing and we should have been ... we were playing great," said Dubnyk.

"What can I say? The game-winning goal went off the guy's leg.

ON THE BENCH: Horcoff came to the rink and was in the pre-game skate after vomiting all afternoon, but didn't have anything in the tank and said he couldn't go. Maybe it's coincidence, but he sits next to Gilbert Brule in the Oilers room, and Brule missed his second straight game with the flu ... Captain Ethan Moreau was cut in the face late in the game and needed repairs.

jmatheson@thejournal.canwest.com