With the playoffs well out of reach, Pittsburgh rookie star Sidney Crosby is making a late push for some Calder Trophy votes.
After helping snap a long losing streak against one team from Florida, Crosby tries to lead the Penguins to their first win of the season over the other one when they meet the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have won a season-high seven straight at the St. Pete Times Forum, and seven of their last eight home games versus the Penguins.
Tampa Bay leads the season series between the clubs 3-0.
Crosby helped Pittsburgh snap a 12-game losing streak against the Panthers with a 5-1 win on Friday, ending Florida’s faint playoff hopes. The top overall pick in the 2005 entry draft, Crosby tied a career-high with four points on a goal and three assists.
“Every time we played them this year, it has been brought up,” Crosby said of the losing streak, which started on March 5, 2002. “I’m not going to lie, it was something that was lingering. It was nice to finally close that up.”
Crosby has recorded more than one point in seven of his last eight games, tallying five goals and 10 assists in that span.
The four-point night was the second of Crosby’s career. He also had a goal and three assists to outduel fellow rookie Alexander Ovechkin on Jan. 15 in an 8-1 rout of the Capitals.
Ovechkin leads all rookies with 48 goals and 99 points, while Crosby leads with 55 assists. Crosby also has five game-winning goals, one more than Ovechkin.
The Lightning have 87 points and are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of Atlanta for the final playoff spot. After this contest, the Lightning will play their final five games versus Southeast Divison opponents, including a home-and-home series starting April 14 againt conference co-leader Carolina.
Burke, a 17-year veteran, has supplanted the inconsistent John Grahame.
“It’s a day-to-day thing,” Burke said. “You’re the No. 1 guy when you’re playing. When you’re not, you’re prepared to play in case you have to. That’s all that’s guaranteed in this game for goaltenders.”
Burke has six wins, a tie and a 1.84 goals-against average in his last seven starts against the Penguins since Jan. 12, 2000.