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Sid jumps to lead in Rocket Richard Trophy race

Wednesday, 03.31.2010 / 1:19 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Sid jumps to lead in Rocket Richard Trophy race
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos are fighting to the finish for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer.
Since we last dissected the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, Sidney Crosby has taken the lead, scoring 2 goals to give him 47 for the season. Alex Ovechkin has scored once, his 46th of the season, in two games, while Steven Stamkos has been stuck on 45.

The race heats up over the final 12 days of the regular season, starting Wednesday when Crosby goes head-to-head against Stamkos in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS). Ovechkin has the night off, but he and the Capitals are back in action Thursday against Atlanta (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS).

The three top candidates each have six games remaining. Here is a quick breakdown:

Alex Ovechkin -- The Capitals play the Thrashers and Bruins twice each. They also have games against the Blue Jackets and Penguins. Combined against those teams, Ovechkin has 56 goals in 76 career games, including 26 goals in 34 games against Atlanta and 11 in 18 games against Boston.

This season, Ovechkin has torched Pittsburgh for 5 goals in three games, Boston for 3 goals in two games and Atlanta for 3 goals in four games. He played only 7:43 at Columbus on Nov. 1 before suffering an upper-body strain.

Washington has four of its remaining games at Verizon Center, where Ovechkin has scored 24 times in 33 games. The other two games are at Columbus and at Pittsburgh. It'll be the first time Ovechkin has played at Nationwide Arena this season, but he had 2 goals Jan. 21 at Mellon Arena in a 6-3 win against Pittsburgh.

Sidney Crosby --
Crosby broke a seven-game drought by netting a pair against Toronto Sunday to take the lead in the race. He still has games left against Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Washington and the New York Islanders. The Penguins play the Thrashers and Islanders twice.

He's done well against the Capitals this season, with 3 goals in three games, and he has 3 goals in four games against the Islanders. He hasn't scored this season against the Lightning and Thrashers this season, and has just 12 goals in a combined 33 games against the Southeast Division teams over his career.

The Penguins, though, play at home for the next four games, starting Wednesday against the Lightning, and nobody has scored more goals on home ice this season than Crosby, who has 32 at Mellon Arena.

Steven Stamkos -- Stamkos has fared considerably well this season against most of Tampa Bay's remaining five opponents -- the Penguins, Rangers, Hurricanes, Senators and Panthers (twice). He has a combined 8 goals in 18 games against those teams, but has been shut out by the Hurricanes five times.

Carolina, in fact, has blanked Stamkos in all 10 meetings dating back to last season, his first in the NHL.

The stats show Stamkos could finish with a bang considering he has 3 goals in three games against Ottawa and 2 goals in four games against the Panthers this season. The Lightning finish the regular season with a home game against Ottawa followed by a home-and-home with Florida.

With little else to play for considering its pretty much a forgone conclusion the Lightning will miss the playoffs, it's possible Stamkos sets his sights on the Rocket Richard Trophy.

He has ground to make up, but his chances for winning go up exponentially if the Lightning pick up extended power-play time. Stamkos leads the NHL with 20 power-play goals this season, eight more than Crosby and Ovechkin.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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