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Sidney Crosby credits Penguins for path to milestone

Captain, closing in on 1,000 NHL points, said he could not have done it alone

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- At one point, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby was unsure he would ever reach 1,000 NHL points.

After scoring three points (two goals, one assist) against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Crosby is three shy of that milestone. Now that it's a question of when, not if, he'll score 1,000, Crosby would rather move past it.

"I don't really think about numbers a whole lot," Crosby said. "Then when you get close to them, you want to get them and get them over with, and move on."

If Crosby scores three points against the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, ROOT, SNW, NHL.TV), he would earn his 1,000th point in his 753rd NHL game, making him the 12th fastest in NHL history to reach the mark.

Despite realizing the magnitude of the milestone, Crosby focuses more on those who have helped on his road there.

"I think you just reflect a bit on all the teams you've been a part of and all the guys you've played with, and how quickly it goes by," Crosby said. "I think the number itself is a nice number, but I think I probably tend to think about all the guys I've played with and all the teams I've played on. I probably tend to think about that a little bit more."

Forward Evgeni Malkin has been one of those guys for 11 years. Since Crosby won't boast, Malkin will do it for him.

"It's a huge number," Malkin said. "He's played in how many? 700 games? It's amazing. I'm glad to play with him. Every night, I enjoy it. I enjoy watching him. I enjoy [playing with him]. I hope he scores three points [Tuesday]. It's a huge number. 

"He's our captain. We always support him and we always follow him."

Video: PIT@STL: Crosby scores 30th of season into empty net

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was equally effusive. 

"Creativity is one element of his game but he has so many facets to his game," Sullivan said. "I think that's what separates him from other players, in my opinion. He can beat you so many different ways. He's powerful. He can play a power game. He can play a finesse game, a speed game and a creative game. He can beat you up the rush. He can beat you in the grind game up the hash marks.

"I think he's so versatile as a player offensively. That's what, for me, separates him."

Crosby's recovery from what could have been a career-threatening concussion also helps separate him. 

After he was concussed in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 1, 2011, Crosby played against the Tampa Bay Lightning four days later and didn't play again until Nov. 21, 2011. During that time, he questioned if his career would ever resume.

"When you go that long without playing and you start to realize you're not improving as much, it's hard for it to not creep into your mind," Crosby said. "It's one of those things where you have to try to stay focused on taking it one day at a time and looking for improvement. I think that's the biggest thing, is just the kind of patience, one step at a time. 

"A lot of different things go through your mind as far as playing again, getting to the level you think you can get to if it does happen that you do get back. There's a lot of time sitting around and kind of waiting. So, it's hard for that not to cross your mind."

Crosby was in the midst of possibly his best NHL run. He scored 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 41 games during the 2010-11 season.

Six years removed from the concussion, Crosby is playing at potentially his highest level.

"I don't know if I've ever felt that good," Crosby said about the 2010-11 season. "I think that playing the amount of hockey that I have the last little bit and the way the team's been playing the last year and a half, I think that makes a big difference and I think we all benefit from that."

Crosby leads the Penguins with 59 points and the League with 30 goals in 45 games this season. He won the Stanley Cup a second time and his first Conn Smythe Trophy in June.

In September, Crosby was named MVP of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 while captaining Team Canada to the championship.

Those achievements have made the past 12 months Crosby's most decorated, and he's three points away from adding to it.

"I think that I've been fortunate to play on some good teams," Crosby said. "You want to be consistent as a player. I think, in that respect, I'm happy about that. But I think that I've been fortunate to play with some great players too."

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