The leading vote-getter for next week’s All-Star game, Crosby will try to help the Penguins snap an eight-game road losing streak against the Bruins when the teams meet at TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday.
Pittsburgh (20-17-7) last won at Boston (21-19-4) on Nov. 1, 2003. At the time, the 15-year-old Crosby was playing his only season with Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, a prep school in Faribault, Minn., where he scored 72 goals and 162 points in 57 games before two dominating seasons with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior League.
Since Crosby’s prep school days, the Penguins have dropped six games in regulation and one each in overtime and a shootout on the road against their onetime Northeast Division rivals.
That drought was extended on Nov. 22. Mark Recchi’s power-play goal with 30 seconds to play in regulation sent the game into overtime, but Michel Ouellet, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar failed to beat Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in a 4-3 shootout loss.
Crosby, the league’s leading scorer this season, missed that game with a groin injury and has not played particularly well when facing Boston. Now 19 years old, last season’s Calder Trophy runner-up has a goal and four assists in four career games versus the Bruins, but has failed to register a point in his last two.
Crosby had his second two-goal game this month in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday. His power-play goal 3:28 into the third period snapped a 2-2 tie, and he added his 23rd of the season with 6:15 to play.
“Sid’s the type of player who can control a game whenever he wants to,” teammate Erik Christensen said of Crosby, who has 68 points so far. “It’s sick. The way he just turned it on. He would come off (the ice) sometimes cursing at himself. But he turned on the switch and had a great third period.”
Crosby was speared by the Isles’ Jason Blake - his soon-to-be All-Star teammate - but shrugged it off.
“It just kind of knocked the wind out of me,” Crosby said Wednesday. “It’s not something you want to dwell on. It’s done and over. There’s a lot more important things to worry about.”
Crosby has recorded points in six of seven games this month, totaling six goals and four assists. The Penguins have gone 4-2-1 over that stretch to move within three points of the New York Rangers for second place in the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins fell to Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo 6-3 on Wednesday for their fifth straight road loss, but saw rookie Phil Kessel record the first two-goal game of his career. Kessel, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft, was playing in only his fifth game after missing nearly a month with testicular cancer.
“It’s remarkable,” Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek said of his fellow University of Minnesota alum. “Seeing him out there and scoring those goals, being happy again for being part of the team. It makes everyone happy.”
Savard has four goals and four assists in a three-game home points streak. Chara, meanwhile, has two goals and four assists in his last six games on home ice, with at least one point in five of them.