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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins wrap up their three-game roadtrip Monday at 7 p.m. in Washington.

It will be the season’s first meeting between Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Washington winger Alex Ovechkin. It will be televised nationally on Versus (formerly OLN).

The two engaged in a heated battle last season for the NHL’s Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. Ovechkin, who is two years older than Crosby, claimed the trophy when he finished with 106 points (52+54), just edging Crosby’s 102 (39+63).

Nevertheless, Crosby, the first-overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, dominated the head-to-head competition with Ovechkin, the 2004 first-overall pick. Crosby tallied nine points (3+6) to Ovechkin’s six (3+3) as the Penguins won three of the four meetings last season.

The two are enjoying stellar sophomore seasons. Crosby is tied for fourth in the league scoring race with 39 points (13+26) in 25 games, while Ovechkin has 35 points (18+17) in 29 games.

The two look forward to meeting again on the ice because it elevates their games.

“I think it’s always a little bit more motivating. From my side I think that it’s built up so much that, in a way, you want to respond and make sure you have a good game,” Crosby said. “But, at the end of the night, the win is most important. That’s the way I looked at it. But there’s no doubt there seems to be more emotion and intensity when we play each other.”

Ovechkin agrees: “I think Sidney is right. It’s important for us, for our team, to win the game. Of course, Sidney and me want to score goals and have some points, but it’s important for us to win the game.”

The rivalry has an added twist this season – Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins rookie sensation leads all NHL newcomers with 28 points (14+14) in 24 games. Malkin, selected right after Ovechkin in 2004 at No. 2 overall, is very familiar with the Capitals star. Both excelled for Russia throughout their young careers.

“I’'m really happy for him, because he is a great player and he’s a great guy,” Ovechkin said. “He’s a very good person and he’s an unbelievable player. His team is lucky team to have Sidney and Malkin. They were drafted and they are good players and they probably will be the best team in the league. But we have a couple guys, too.”

On the radio, 105.9 The X will start its broadcast with a pregame show at 6:30 p.m. The broadcast may be found live through streaming audio on as well. Tune in for Penguins Hotline following every game on 105.9 The X and the Penguins Radio Network. Join in the conversation with host Bob Grove by calling the Penn Telecom toll-free line at 1-866-922-2874.

Email and maybe Bob Grove or Phil Bourque will answer your question during the second intermission of the game.


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