Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes

Sidney Crosby scores twice to stay hot, Penguins beat Islanders

2 Comments

PITTSBURGH (AP) Resurgent Sidney Crosby scored two power-play goals, Marc-Andre Fleury returned from a concussion and made 38 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Saturday night.

Crosby scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season and has 10 points in his last seven games. After scoring just six goals in his first 32 games, Crosby has five scores in his last five contests.

Fleury made his first start since Dec. 14. The Penguins won just three of eight games without him.

Pittsburgh has won four of six after dropping its first four games under new coach Mike Sullivan.

Evgeni Malkin had three assists and has seven points over his last three games. Kris Letang also had three assists and has six points over his last two games. Phil Kessel scored his 12th of the season, Patric Hornqvist his eighth and Matt Cullen added a short-handed goal and an assist.

John Tavares got his 15th goal and Nick Leddy also scored for New York after the Penguins built a 5-0 lead.

The Penguins have nine power-play goals in their last seven games. They scored two against the Islanders, who killed a franchise-record 42 straight penalties before allowing one against Buffalo on Thursday night.

The Islanders had won three of four. The Islanders won the final four meetings against Pittsburgh last season and were unbeaten in regulation against Metropolitan Division opponents entering Saturday.

Islanders’ goaltender Thomas Greiss got the start against his former team, making 22 saves on 26 shots before he was pulled in the second period. Christopher Gibson made 16 saves in his NHL debut.

Greiss started for Jaroslav Halak, who missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury. Greiss won nine times in 18 starts in 2014-15, his only season with the Penguins. This season he has 11 wins in 19 appearances.

Kessel put Pittsburgh ahead 3:34 into the game, converting Cullen’s behind-the-net feed from the slot.

Crosby got his first goal later in the period. He chipped the rebound from Malkin’s point shot over the outstretched pad of Greiss. It was part of a dominant, 20-shot opening period from the Penguins.

Crosby scored his second midway through the second period when he snapped a sharp wrist shot underneath the crossbar.

Cullen scored on a 2-on-1 34 seconds later. Hornqvist tipped Brian Dumoulin‘s point shot past Gibson later in the period as Pittsburgh scored three second-period goals on 10 shots.

NOTES: Pittsburgh won for just the second time in eight home games. … The Penguins reassigned G Matt Murray, who won two of his first four NHL starts. … Islanders F Cal Clutterbuck left the game with an upper-body injury. … Islanders D Johnny Boychuck sat with an upper-body injury. … Penguins C Nick Bonino played in his 300th NHL game. … Pittsburgh will host Chicago on Tuesday night before playing its next four on the road. The Islanders will play eight of their next 10 at home, starting Sunday when they host Dallas.

Uh oh: Sidney Crosby’s day-to-day with lower-body injury

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates during the first day of NHL hockey training camp, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP
21 Comments

Pittsburgh Penguins fans might be wise not to ask the question: “Can it get any worse?”

The answer’s just about always “Yes.”

Sunday presented the latest evidence, as the team announced that Sidney Crosby is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. As you likely know, this word comes a day after the Penguins lost their fifth straight game, with Mike Sullivan still lacking a win as their new head coach.

Woof, that’s a paragraph loaded with sadness. Almost a factory of sadness, even.

Allow a few bits of mild optimism, then.

Yes, this isn’t good. Some might even cite this as evidence to why No. 87 has suffered from such a puzzling lack of offense.

Could the Penguins just be picking a smart time to give Crosby a much-needed breather, though?

During this holiday week, the Penguins will get a big break. They face the Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh and then go on a siesta until a back-to-back set on Saturday and Sunday.

Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to sit their embattled leader?

No, this isn’t a good thing. Even so, it might not be such a bad situation in the big picture.

Let’s nitpick Sidney Crosby’s slow start

Sidney Crosby
AP
15 Comments

The responsible, reasonable thing is not to make a big deal out of two games. Not when the Pittsburgh Penguins have 80 more.

What about the fun thing, though?

After two games, the Pittsburgh Penguins have zero standings points, two losses and a single goal (by Phil Kessel).

When you’re not getting production from an entire team, everyone deserves some blame. Sports talk doesn’t always work that way, though, which is why the Hockey Internet is gaping in awe at Sidney Crosby‘s meek start.

Goals don’t go around very often in the extremely tight-checking NHL, so many times one can point out that a cold player is getting his chances. Crosby’s been unusually quiet even in that regard, with zero shots in those first two games.

Just notice how rare that is for Crosby, even taking into account that he may still lean a bit toward passing.

Is he just missing the net, though? Well …

Crosby is rarely an interesting quote, so it’s not surprising that his take might as well have been taken from @BoringMonahan:

… But at least he’s not in denial.

Let’s not forget that the Penguins boast plenty of other talented players, so to some extent, it might come down to finding the right mix. Evgeni Malkin saw a different linemate in David Perron as the Sergei Plotnikov experiment was placed on hold, for instance.

It’s early, and both the team and Crosby can make adjustments. There’s at least one that seems pretty obvious:

The Penguins must stew on these problems for some time, as they won’t play again until they begin a five-game homestand by hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Maybe Crosby just needs some home-cooking?

Video: Cause for concern with Sidney Crosby after collision with Hagelin?

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins
26 Comments

Sidney Crosby was slow to get up after being involved in a collision with Carl Hagelin during the third period of Game 2, but the Pittsburgh Penguins captain remained in the game.

Is it enough to cause concern for Crosby, who has a history of concussions and missed 68 games after being on the receiving end of a similar hit in the 2011 Winter Classic?

Crosby had a big game for the Penguins, scoring twice to bust his personal playoff slump in their win over the Rangers on Saturday to even the series.

Afterward, Crosby said he was caught in the jaw but thought the collision might have been accidental, as per Tom Gulitti of The Record.

“I don’t know what hit me, if it was shoulder, stick, his head. It could have been anything,” said Crosby.

“Just two guys collided. That’s basically what it is,” he added.

Video: Sidney Crosby strikes twice to bust personal playoff scoring slump

11 Comments

Sidney Crosby had just one goal in 19 playoff games before Saturday’s clash between his Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.

Then, within the span of 4:39 late in the second period, Crosby struck twice to give his team the lead in Game 2 of that first-round series, which the Penguins trail 1-0.

Pittsburgh was down a goal after the first period, but erupted with three in the middle period to take a 3-1 lead, despite being short-handed five different times in the game. Crosby had two of those goals on three shots through 40 minutes.