The Penguins defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Monday at CONSOL Energy Center, and the big story of the game was captain Sidney Crosby.
After a three-point night in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime win over Florida on Saturday (which were career points 900, 901 and 902), Crosby followed that up with another dominant performance.
He earned two goals and two assists in tonight’s game to extend his point streak to 11 games. Crosby has 20 points (11G-9A) over that span.
“I think his game is at another level and it’s consistent,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s not just sporadic. He’s hard to handle. Most teams don’t have an answer for him when he’s playing with the passion and the determination that he plays with.”
Both of Crosby’s goals came on breakaways. His first was unassisted, as it was the result of a turnover he caused in the defensive zone. Reading the play perfectly, Crosby intercepted a D to D pass on his own blue line and quickly found himself face-to-face with Pittsburgh native John Gibson. Crosby easily found the back of the net.
“First one, I got my skate on it,” Crosby explained. “I think he was trying to make a pass and I kind of stumbled up ice and I just had a lot of time to make a play there.”
Time and space is definitely not something you want to leave Crosby with, and the Anaheim defense clearly realized this because his second breakaway was not quite as easy. Defenseman Cam Fowler was hanging off of him the whole way, and the play actually ended with the two of them colliding in the corner – but that wasn’t enough to stop Crosby from cashing in on another scoring opportunity.
“Fowler was using all of his energy to try to hold him back,” Sullivan said. “And it just goes to show you, No. 1, his determination to continue to play there. But his strength, most guys wouldn’t be able to skate through that.”
Crosby credited linemate Chris Kunitz for springing him on the breakaway.
“The second one, ‘Kuni’ made a great play to find me and I just tried to fight through those hooks,” Crosby said. “Felt like I was away a couple times but (Fowler) kept kind of reeling me in, so I’m just happy to get one in there.”
With the help of Crosby, Kunitz tallied a goal and an assist against the Ducks, and the winger appreciates how his captain has been leading the team as of late.
“I mean, he does amazing things all the time,” Kunitz said. “But to see it in games when we’re kind of shorthanded up the middle and he’s double shifting, he’s PKing and he’s taking a lot of the burden off other guys and he’s excelling at it, it’s a lot of fun to sit back and watch and be a part of.”
Crosby got off to a relatively slow start with just two goals in his first 18 games, but he’s certainly back to being the best player in the world.
Right now, Crosby is on a career-high seven-game goal-scoring streak where he’s found the back of the net 10 times over that span – which ties him with Chicago’s Patrick Kane for the longest goal-scoring streak in the NHL this season. Tonight also marked the ninth consecutive home game that Crosby has scored a goal.
Crosby has earned 26 points (15G-11A) since Jan. 1 and now has a season total of 53 points, which ties him for fifth place in the league scoring race with Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov. Crosby’s 24 goals tie him for seventh with Colorado’s Matt Duchene.
Crosby has clearly had a huge influence on the Pens’ success lately, but being the leader he is, he’s simply happy that his team is winning and getting better with every game they play.
“It’s fun to win,” Crosby said. “Definitely fun when we’re scoring some more goals here. It’s always nice when they’re all going in so we’ll just try to ride it as long as we can. I think that as a group, we’re finding out the way we need to play and what it looks like and it’s just consistency.”