Crosby leads the league in points (53) and assists (36), while Hossa is the NHL’s leader in goals (24) this season. However, while Crosby’s talents haven’t been enough for the struggling Penguins (15-13-3) to rise above mediocrity, Hossa is a big reason why Atlanta (19-10-6) leads the Southeast Division.
The right wing is coming off a brilliant performance in a 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, which snapped Atlanta’s five-game losing streak.
Hossa scored two power-play goals and then scored in the shootout.
“He’s so big, so fast, so skilled,” Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “He’s tough to contain.”
Hossa’s performance ended a personal three-game point drought, his longest of the season.
“We saw the Marian Hossa show,” Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. “Fans in this building saw why he’s the most complete player in the NHL. He did it all. He was simply a force out there.”
Hossa has 23 assists and 32 points in 28 career games against the Penguins. He also has a seven-game points streak against them, including a goal in Atlanta’s 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 9—the first of what will be four meetings between the teams this season.
Crosby had a goal and an assist in that game.
The 19-year-old Penguins center has recorded at least one point in Pittsburgh’s last nine games, including an assist in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. However, Crosby failed to score a goal for the second straight game, after recording a goal in each of the previous six contests.
The Penguins have lost two straight after a four-game winning streak. Evgeni Malkin scored the team’s lone goal Tuesday while on the power play.
Pittsburgh was 1-for-8 with the man advantage against St. Louis, and is only 2-for-25 in its last three games.
“It’s hard to get anything going on the power play when the work ethic isn’t there,” said Crosby. “We have skill, but when we don’t work hard that isn’t enough.”
Fleury has allowed at least three goals in each of his last five starts, and his goals-against average has grown to 3.14. He is 2-2-0 with a 3.11 GAA in his career against the Thrashers.