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Sizzling Sidney Crosby leads Penguins into Vegas

Jan 15, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after being named a star of the game against the Seattle Kraken at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby is in the middle of his 19th season since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. But the 36-year-old center, the cornerstone of three Stanley Cup championship teams and a two-time winner of the Hart (MVP) Trophy, hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

Far from it in fact.

With 26 goals in just 42 games, Crosby is on a 50-goal pace as the Penguins begin a two-game road trip against Western Conference teams on Saturday night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in Las Vegas.

“Sometimes we (coaches) marvel at what he does out there,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said after Crosby scored two goals in the Penguins’ 3-0 victory over the Seattle Kraken on Monday. “We get the best seat in the house. Watch it every day in practice.”

It was the 458th multipoint game of Crosby’s career, passing Phil Esposito for 10th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Crosby, who has 576 career goals and 1,548 points, has reached the 50-goal mark just once, when he logged 51 goals in the 2009-10 season.

“What I admire most about Sid is his creativity and how he scores goals and his ability to go it so many different ways,” Sullivan said. “I think he’s the best player in the game, the best player in the world, and has been a long time in and around the blue paint.

“He scores goals from below the goal line. His backhand is one of the most dangerous backhands in the game. He just has the ability to score goals so many different ways. The biggest thing for me is just his creativity, his ability to think it. It has to start in his brain first before he executes some of these things.”

Crosby, who has scored four goals in his past three games, will lead the Penguins against a Vegas team that has won back-to-back games for the first time since a four-game win streak from Dec. 6-12.

The Golden Knights defeated the visiting Nashville Predators 4-1 on Monday and followed that with a 5-1 home victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday. Ivan Barbashev scored two goals vs. New York and Logan Thompson made 29 saves as Vegas improved to 3-1-0 on its five-game homestand.

“I thought overall it was a good game,” said Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault, who opened the scoring with his 19th goal of the season. “I thought we played overall really well. … A lot of positives today.”

The Golden Knights, who began the season with a 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1), are set to play their final home game until Feb. 6, when the Edmonton Oilers visit. Before that, Vegas heads east for a four-game road trip that begins Monday at New Jersey and is followed by the All-Star break and bye week.

“Tomorrow is a new day, right?” Marchessault said when asked what the team needs to do to continue the winning streak. “Everything resets and we’ve got to focus on Saturday’s game. Obviously, we do want to get on a little bit of a roll here, especially since the past few games have been hard, a lot of the win-one, lose-one kind of thing. Definitely excited to play Saturday.”

This is the second meeting between the two teams. The Penguins won the first one 3-0 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 19 as Alex Nedeljkovic turned away 38 shots.

–Field Level Media

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