Sidney Crosby two goals away from 500, faces Ovechkin and Caps
There could be a bit of added drama Tuesday when the Washington Capitals visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a rivalry game.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby is two goals shy of becoming the second active NHL player to reach 500 goals. The other is Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, so it could make it all the more significant if Crosby hits that milestone Tuesday.
Crosby nears milestone
Crosby has 12 goals in 33 games this season to go with 26 assists for 38 points.
“He is the most driven athlete I’ve ever been around, irrespective of sports, not just hockey,” head coach Mike Sullivan said via NHL.com.
“He’s so driven to be the best. And then he’s willing to put the work in every day,” he continued. “He’s the first guy on the ice, and there’s always small aspects of his game where he’ll identify that he needs to get better at and he’s working on those little things every single day…It never stops.”
Crosby, 34, has 498 goals and 855 assists for 1363 points in 1072 games.
Penguins look to get back on track
The Penguins lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. The setback snapped their eight-game point streak (6-0-2) and was their third straight loss (0-1-2) after they won 17 of 19.
It also highlighted a problem of late – falling behind and having to chase games. In Sunday’s contest, Pittsburgh scored twice in the third period to forge a tie before surrendering the go-ahead goal.
Pittsburgh defenseman Marcus Pettersson said it was a matter of the team “being on our toes early. Once we get going … we gain some momentum. We’ve got to do a better job of doing that earlier.”
The Penguins, known for their offensive stars, are in the top 10 in the league at 3.31 goals per game, but they have mustered six goals during their three-game slide.
“Over the course of the year you go through times where it seems like everything’s falling in (place) and everything’s going in offensively, and then you go through times of the year where you’ve got to grind it out a little bit more and (pucks) might not be going in the net,” said Pittsburgh winger Bryan Rust, who scored twice on Sunday.
“We might need to simplify the game a little bit to put more pucks in the net, get some more rebound goals, things like that, and I think confidence will go up from there.”
Capitals ready for the challenge
The Capitals have been idle since breaking some doldrums with a 5-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Friday.
They entered that contest after having scored just once over their previous two games.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had an offensive outbreak like that, and it felt good to be playing our style of hockey again, and to create that many chances and capitalize on them,” said Connor McMichael, who had a goal and an assist against Dallas.
The onslaught included three first-period goals and two power-play goals.
“Offensively, it was nice to get some results, both on the power play and playing at 5-on-5, by putting some pucks in the back of the net,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Capitals will be facing a Penguins team looking to locate its offense. In turn, Washington will be looking for more of the same.
“It was just a great night for us, and, hopefully, we can build on it,” said the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom, who had a goal and two assists against the Stars.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report