Crosby tries to lead Pittsburgh to its first season sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers when the Atlantic Division foes meet at Mellon Arena on Sunday.
In the 39-year history of this rivalry, the Penguins (34-21-9) have never won every meeting in any single season. The only season in which they did not lose at least once to the Flyers was in 1992-93, when they won five meetings and tied two.
Crosby may be the biggest reason Pittsburgh is in this position, with seven goals and nine assists in the seven games against Philadelphia. The only meeting in which he failed to register a point was the most recent one, though he did have the only goal in the shootout of a 5-4 win on Feb. 8.
The 19-year-old superstar became the fastest player in NHL history to record 200 points, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only teenagers to do it, with a first-period goal in a 3-2 loss to Carolina on Friday.
“I never thought that would happen,” said Crosby, the league leader with 98 points this season. “It’s a nice accomplishment.”
With 18 games left in the regular season, Crosby is four points off his total from his 2005-06 rookie season. Friday’s goal was just his second in 16 games, and his first point in three games.
The Penguins have lost three of four games since a 14-0-2 run. They are 1-for-16 on the power play over the last three contests, including 0-for-7 in Friday’s loss, despite being among the NHL leaders with a 20.2-percent success rate with the man advantage.
“We didn’t execute well or have the right attitude on the power play, and that’s our strength,” Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said after losing Friday’s game.
While the Pens are fifth overall in the Eastern Conference standings, the Flyers (17-37-10) are at the bottom.
They did, however, end a five-game losing streak on Thursday with a 4-3 win at Boston as Scottie Upshall scored 9.9 seconds into overtime.
The Flyers’ slump had coincided with the loss of two of their top three scorers. They traded Peter Forsberg on Feb. 15, and Mike Knuble has missed the team’s last six games after an on-ice collision on Feb. 17 broke multiple bones in his face, requiring surgery. Knuble is out indefinitely.
Philadelphia, though, took a season-high 55 shots Friday on its way to snapping its skid.
Mike Richards, a 22-year-old center, had one goal and one assist for the Flyers, giving him seven points in his last five games. Martin Biron, acquired from Buffalo in a trade Tuesday, stopped 34 shots in his Flyers debut.
“We have a young team that makes a lot of mistakes, but we’re learning,” Biron said. “It was a big step for this team.”