The Pittsburgh Penguins have had four days off to figure out
what went wrong in a pair of losses that snapped their 12-game
Even on the best stretch of his career, Sidney Crosby is trying
to determine what’s wrong with his own game.
Crosby extended his personal point streak to 20 games in the
Penguins’ two losses but didn’t register a shot, an issue he’ll
hope to correct Monday night when Pittsburgh returns to the ice
against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.
The Penguins (21-10-2) matched the eighth-longest winning streak
in NHL history by pulling out 12 straight victories from Nov.
17-Dec. 11, but that run ended Tuesday in a 3-2 loss at
They fell again 4-1 at home to the New York Rangers the next
night, and although Crosby had three assists in the two losses to
extend his career-best streak, something wasn’t quite right for
Pittsburgh’s captain. He was held without a shot in both games
after averaging nearly four during the first 18 games of his
“Even though you get points, sometimes you don’t always play the
greatest,” Crosby said Sunday. “The last few games, I haven’t
really been too happy. … I’ve got to be better.
“I’m always able to evaluate myself pretty critically after a
game, and I think that’s how you need to be. That doesn’t change
whether you’re getting on a streak like I am. If not, I’d still do
the same thing.”
Crosby’s turned himself into more of a goal-scorer the past two
seasons – his 77 goals since the beginning of 2009-10 lead the
league – and the Penguins certainly benefit when he’s shooting
instead of focusing on setting up teammates. Pittsburgh is 14-1-1
when Crosby has four shots or more and 7-9-1 when he takes three or
Crosby’s six shots at Phoenix on Nov. 6 led to one goal in a 4-3
shootout win, and he assisted on a tally from Chris Kunitz, who’s
expected back Monday after missing the two losses with an
Pittsburgh hasn’t had four days off between games this season,
but generally a little rest hasn’t provided much of a boost. It’s
4-4-0 when it’s has at least two days off.
“It’s been a time where we’ve judged where our team is at,
health-wise and how many games we’ve played,” coach Dan Bylsma
said. “It’s also the first time that we had a work day – to get
some work with pace and speed and get that tempo and work in the
practice that we can use in the game.”
Phoenix (15-9-7) wraps up the Atlantic Division portion of its
six-game road swing Monday after an eventful visit to the New York
area. The Coyotes fell 3-0 at New Jersey on Wednesday, then blew a
two-goal lead in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers on
It appeared they were on their way to another loss Saturday
against the dreadful Islanders, but Martin Hanzal’s late goal sent
the game to overtime. Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Kyle Turris
scored in a shootout to lift the Coyotes to a 4-3 win.
“Obviously, there’s some things in our game that have to
improve,” coach Dave Tippett told NHL.com. “Fortunately, we found a
Jason LaBarbera made 41 saves in his second straight start with
Ilya Bryzgalov nursing an upper-body injury, and he’s likely to get
the call again Monday.
LaBarbera is 0-2-0 with a 5.53 goals-against average in two
career starts versus Pittsburgh.