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Crosby not bothered by goal drought

Penguins center remains confident despite not scoring in 11 games, one shy of longest stretch of NHL career

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby is confident he'll score a goal soon.

Partially because Crosby has recently been asked about failing to score in his past 11 games, which is one game shy of his career-long 12-game goalless drought from Nov. 23, 2011, to March 22, 2012. He'd like to stop the questions when the Penguins face the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, ATTSN-PT, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

"[Jake Guentzel] was asked about [his six-game drought before facing the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 4] and I told him, I said 'It's a good sign. It's coming tonight.' So, he ended up scoring," Crosby said. "Unfortunately, I've been asked for a few games here. So, it hasn't gone quite the same as him."

Crosby has three assists during his drought, which are 14 fewer than he had during his goalless stretch in 2011-12. He missed the first 21 games of that season because of a concussion sustained during the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2011, before playing eight games from Nov. 21-Dec. 5, 2011, and missing another 40 before returning March 15, 2012.

Video: PIT@NSH: Crosby stays patient for sweet shootout goal

This time, health isn't an issue. Crosby, who is tied for third on the Penguins with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 19 games, believes his numbers don't accurately represent the state of his game.

Still, Crosby can't help but be frustrated. Not because he's played poorly, but because he hasn't been able to build on scoring 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his first eight games this season. 

"I think, in general, you just don't like going through that," Crosby said. "I think the biggest thing, though, is when you're not getting [chances]. If you're not getting the chances then you've got to reevaluate your game and find ways to get them. 

"I think as long as they're there, it's obviously not fun when you're not scoring, but when they're there, you're trusting the process a little more."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he sat down with Crosby recently, but hasn't stressed a perceived lack of production.

"I've had a number of discussions with him, just about his overall game and our team game," Sullivan said. "I think, quite honestly, the discussion never focuses on scoring goals. It's just about playing the game the right way. We believe, as a coaching staff, that when Sid does that, that it's a matter of time until he scores."

A lack of finish hasn't only affected Crosby this season. With the exception of forwards Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, who are tied for the team lead with seven goals each, Penguins forwards have struggled to produce even-strength chances.

In an attempt to facilitate some offense, Sullivan has routinely juggled his lines, which has led Crosby to center a revolving door, particularly at right wing. Conor Sheary began the season there before Patric Hornqvist temporarily took over but was replaced by Bryan Rust against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Video: PIT@FLA: Crosby scores power-play goal on redirection

Crosby likely will play between Guentzel and Rust again against Buffalo after the Penguins lost 5-4 in a shootout to Nashville. He scored in the second round of the shootout, going forehand to backhand and beating Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.

That goal didn't count toward Crosby's season total, but did help his confidence.

"It's nice to see one go in, unfortunately it's in a losing cause," he said. "That's the way it goes sometimes. The biggest thing, I've said it a number of times, is just getting chances and trust that they'll go in. Last game, I thought there was a lot more there and I just have to continue to do that. At some point, it has to go in."

Crosby's teammates share that sentiment.

"I don't think guys in here are really worried about it," Rust said. "He's a guy on our team that does a lot more than just produce offense. That's going to come, just based on the type of player and type of guy he is, and his determination. Things are going to change for him."

They could change against the Sabres; Crosby has 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 43 games against them. But the notoriously superstitious Penguins captain dismissed those stats when they were brought up following practice Monday. 

"I don't want to talk about it," Crosby said. "They haven't been going in easy lately, so you just try to keep going. No matter who you're playing against, just try to keep doing the right things and trust they'll go in."

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