RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby
had 6 goals in last season's march to the Stanley Cup Final. This year, the Pittsburgh captain has 14 goals -- in 16 games -- so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So what's the difference?
Nothing, says Crosby.
"Not a whole lot, I'm just trying to capitalize on my chances and I have done a better job of that," said Crosby, who scored a goal and added an assist in Pittsburgh's 6-2 victory against Carolina on Saturday night in Game 3 Eastern Conference Finals at the RBC Center. "As a team, I think each line has done a tremendous job of producing a lot of momentum. When you put teams back on their heels a bit and the line before you goes out there and has a great shift, you benefit."
Everyone else provides us an opportunity to benefit, and it is not going to be like that every night. I think we have just focused on what we can do -- create chances and momentum and, hopefully, we get rewarded."
Crosby's goal in the final minute of the first period, which gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead, is a perfect example of what he means.
Linemate Billy Guerin did all the work, lugging the puck through the neutral zone and into the attacking zone, driving hard against Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Crosby was the trailer on the play, but he used a burst of speed to create distance from defenseman Joni Pitkanen. That allowed Guerin to snap off a backhanded saucer pass that landed right on Crosby's stick for a redirection just past the outstretched glove of Cam Ward.
"Not too many guys can make that pass," Crosby said.
But Guerin saw the brilliance on the play as belonging solely to Crosby.
"Sid, for as many highlight-reel goals as he has, he probably has twice as many just driving to the net from the blue line in," Guerin said. "He wants it there all the time, and I just tried to throw it there."
That goal allowed Crosby to hold onto the goal-scoring lead in these playoffs, two ahead of teammate Evgeni Malkin
, who had two goals Saturday night and has 12 in the postseason.
The record for goals in one playoff year -- 19, held by Philadelphia's Reggie Leach in 1976 and Edmonton's Jari Kurri in 1985 -- is within sight, but Crosby says none of that matters right now. All that matters to him is that his Penguins are now just one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the second-straight year.
"Obviously, we know we have an opportunity now, but I don't think we have let ourselves get that far ahead," he said. "We're still working hard and we're just focusing on what we have to do now right now in the present."
That task is to put away the Hurricanes in this best-of-7 series that stands at 3-0, thanks in large part to Crosby. The first of four opportunities will come in Tuesday's Game 4 at the RBC Center.
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor