SAN JOSE – Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be looking for his first career goal against the Sharks when the teams meet at SAP Center on Monday night.
Crosby hasn’t scored in six games vs. San Jose. Further, he went without a point the last time these teams met more than a year ago, along with a career-worst -5 rating.
He didn’t have to be reminded about that latter number after the pregame skate.
“I’m hoping it’s pretty tough to go minus-5 and then go minus-6 the next time,” Crosby said with a grin. “We’ll see what happens, you never know, hockey is a weird game sometimes. I’m hoping it will be much better than the last one.”
Crosby has 66 points (21g, 45a) this season in 61 games, tied for fifth in the NHL in scoring and tied for third in assists.
Teammate Evgeni Malkin is fourth in scoring with 67 points to lead the Penguins, giving the Pittsburgh an unrivaled pair down the middle.
"[Crosby] is extremely dangerous all over the rink, and what happens is you focus on him and No. 71 appears on the next shift, and he can do it just as well,” Todd McLellan said, referring to Malkin's sweater number.
“It's going to be a team game. We're not going to get the right players on the ice all the time because they have a double-whammy of an attack. So, whoever you're on the ice against, you better perform well and manage the puck properly."
While the Penguins remain a dynamic team offensively, they bring the fourth-lowest team goals-against average into tonight’s matchup (2.38). Former Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss beat Anaheim 5-2 on Friday, and Pittsburgh followed that up with a 1-0 shutout of the Kings on Saturday in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Crosby said: “I think [defense] is something we’ve committed to all year, regardless of some of the scores, I think our mentality has been to make sure that we take care of things in our end and make sure that we’re structured. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, you’re going to give up goals. But, I think we have been committed to it, and it’s a big reason why we’ve had success.”
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Crosby, who won a gold medal with Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the Olympics one year ago, had high praise for San Jose’s best defensive defenseman.
“He’s just really smart, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Crosby said. “The way he can read a play, and he’s not the biggest guy or most physical guy, but he always seems to be in the right place and take a stick – when the guy is open on the back door or making that first pass out of the zone.
“He just doesn’t put himself in a lot of bad situations. Just a really smart player. Had a chance to see that close up playing with him. Playing against him, even going back to junior, you could tell the way he thought the game was pretty unique.”