Crosby is looking to break Lemieux’s team rookie scoring record when the Penguins visit the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season finale for both teams.
The 18-year-old Crosby became the youngest player to total 100 points in a season when he assisted on three goals in the Penguins’ 6-1 win over the New York Islanders on Monday. He tied Lemieux’s franchise scoring record for first-year players, set during the 1984-85 season.
“It’s a great accomplishment, and I’m definitely proud of it,” Crosby said. “By no means, coming into the season, did I think about getting 100 points. But as it became near, it was something I thought would be a nice feat, and I tried to have the best finish to the season—and have no regrets.”
Crosby, the first overall selection of the 2005 NHL draft, joined Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk (1981-82) as the only 18-year-old rookies to reach the milestone. Crosby is the seventh rookie to reach the century mark after Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin also topped it this season.
“One hundred points? At 18?” Penguins right wing Colby Armstrong said. “This kid’s doing something most people can’t imagine or dream of.”
The comparisons to Lemieux were unavoidable this season with both players active for the Penguins from the opening game. The 40-year-old Lemieux announced his retirement on Jan. 24 after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
Crosby proceeded to lead the team in scoring with 38 goals and 62 assists, compared to 43 and 57 by Lemieux in his rookie season.
Despite Crosby’s performance, the Penguins have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. The next top scorer for the team behind Crosby is defenseman Sergei Gonchar with 58 points.
Pittsburgh is looking to avoid being swept in the season series with Toronto, having lost eight of the last nine meetings overall.
The Maple Leafs’ late surge was not enough to get them into the postseason, as they will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
The Leafs are 8-1-2 in their last 11 games, but stumbled through a 20-game stretch bridging the Olympic break with a 4-14-2 record.
Toronto lost 6-0 to the playoff-bound Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, a day after being eliminated from playoff contention.
“It was disappointing how last night ended up,” Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. “Still, we should have had a better effort than we did tonight.”
Sundin needs one goal to reach 30 for the 12th time in his 15-year career.