With one game remaining before he’ll join his Olympic teammates in Vancouver, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby(notes) wants to continue his scoring surge. Facing the Nashville Predators could give him that opportunity.
Crosby goes for his first career goal in this matchup Sunday at Mellon Arena where the Penguins will face the Predators for the only time this season.
Crosby, an alternate captain for Team Canada, set a career high with his 40th and 41st goals as Pittsburgh (36-22-3) had its three-game home winning streak snapped Friday, 3-2 in overtime to the New York Rangers. Crosby’s previous best was 39 goals set during his 2005-06 rookie season.
“I don’t want to stop,” said Crosby, who has 18 goals in his last 19 games to become the 17th player in franchise history to score at least 40 in a season. “It’s been good. There is still some season left. It’s good to be rewarded but I have to keep going here.”
The Penguins center has no goals in three career games versus Nashville, but that could change Sunday with the way the Predators (32-23-5) have struggled in their defensive zone.
Since allowing 2.0 goals per game during a 7-2-0 stretch Dec. 29-Jan. 15, Nashville is giving up an average of 3.0 goals during its 3-7-2 slide.
The Predators lost 5-2 at New Jersey on Friday, their most goals allowed in 21 games.
“We need to tighten up and win the last game before the break,” said Predators defenseman Shea Weber(notes), Crosby’s Olympic teammate. “You see how tight the Western Conference is and we have 21 games after the (Olympic) break. It’s a sprint, 17 games in March. It’s going to be crazy and we need to get on a roll.”
In the teams’ last meeting, Ellis was pulled after giving up two goals on seven shots before Rinne made 17 saves in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Penguins on Jan. 8, 2009.
Nashville has been effective with the man-advantage over the last five games, converting 7 of 22, but will face a Pittsburgh team that has killed 54 of 62 power-play chances in its last 12 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), who made 30 saves in last season’s loss in Nashville, will likely start in net for Pittsburgh on Sunday after Brent Johnson(notes) left Friday’s loss in the second period due to a lower-body injury.
Fleury is 3-0-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average in his last three home starts.
Nashville, which ends its four-game trip Sunday, is 1-5-1 on the road since winning five straight away games Dec. 29-Jan. 15.
Malkin, who has eight goals and 12 assists while scoring in the last 11 home games, had a goal and an assist in Nashville’s last visit to Mellon Arena - a Penguins’ 4-1 victory on Feb. 6, 2007.
Crosby had two assists in that game.
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