Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby felt Cam Fowler’s stick desperately tugging at his jersey and kept right on skating. Breaking in all alone against Anaheim goaltender John Gibson, Crosby kept Fowler at bay long enough to rip a wrist shot over Gibson’s glove and into the net, the most elaborate display of a hot streak that shows no signs of slowing.
The captain that muddled through the fall is surging in mid-winter. So is his team.
Crosby scored on a pair of breakaways to extend his goal streak to a career-best seven games and added two assists while the Penguins rolled past the Ducks 6-2 on Monday night.
“His game is at another level right now,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s a big reason we continue to gain traction in the standings.”
The Penguins have won six of seven during Crosby’s latest binge, one that has propelled him all the way to fifth in the league-scoring race, a stunning turnaround for a player that had just 18 points in 28 games when Sullivan took over for Mike Johnston on Dec. 12. Crosby has 34 points in Sullivan’s 23 games on the bench.
“It’s been good here lately,” Crosby said. “Everybody’s playing good. As a team we’re finding our game. Our starts have gotten a lot better.”
Chris Kunitz, Conor Sheary, Carl Hagelin and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 shots after playing poorly in his last two starts.
Having Crosby at the top of his game certainly helps. The two-time MVP failed to make the All-Star team while healthy for the first time in his career. He now has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in four games since spending the break at home instead of Nashville with teammates Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
“It gives us confidence on the ice every time he’s got the puck,” Kunitz said. “It gives us a good feeling that we’re going to have something we can accomplish out there and get points.”
Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon scored for the Ducks. Gibson made 25 saves before being pulled early in the third. The Penguins’ six goals were the most allowed by Anaheim this season.
“We weren’t prepared to play with our feet,” Getzlaf said. “I didn’t think we got our legs going the way we wanted to when you have the puck. They’re a quick team. You stand still for a couple seconds before you move, they’re going to have it on their stick.” Red Wings 3, Panthers 0
In Detroit, Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in a 1:08 span midway through the third after Tomas Tatar broke a scoreless tie earlier in the period and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves for the Red Wings in a win over Florida.
Mrazek has a career-high four shutouts this season. Rangers 2, Devils 1
In New York, Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves and the Rangers posted their first three-game winning streak since November with a victory over New Jersey.
Kevin Klein, who broke a thumb last week, scored for the first time in 28 games and the streaking J.T. Miller scored for the ninth time in 10 games for New York. Senators 5, Lightning 1
In Ottawa, Mark Stone had two goals and an assist and the Senators downed Tampa Bay.
Stone has five goals and three assists in his past four games.