SUN Hockey Pool

Race to the Rocket Richard trophy

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

PITTSBURGH — Just call it Ovie Vs. The Kid: The Race for The Rocket.

When the heated Alexander Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry resumes here Tuesday in the penultimate regular-season NHL game to be played at the crumbling Mellon Arena, there will be no Olympic bragging rights or a playoff berth on the line.

But once the puck is dropped between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, that won’t stop either superstar from keeping their eyes on the prize, the coveted Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s leading goal scorer.

Entering play Tuesday, Crosby is in front down the stretch with 47 goals, one more than Ovechkin and Tampa Bay Lightning super sophomore Steven Stamkos.

This should all be old hat to The Great Eight, who already has three 50-plus-goal seasons on his resume and is gunning for a third consecutive Richard Trophy. For Ovechkin, it’s a simple matter of “been there, done that.”

As for Crosby, he’ll be the first to tell you that, given his druthers, he prefers the Stanley Cup title and Olympic gold medal he has accrued in the past 10 months, two baubles Ovechkin still dreams of capturing one day.

Still, the opportunity to reach the milestone 50-goal plateau intrigues Crosby.

“A little bit, yeah,” Crosby acknowledged on Monday. “I think that’s normal. But I don’t want to think about it too much. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. We’ll see if it’s meant to be.

“It’s tough. Every game is tight right now. But that’s part of the job too. You’ve got to find a way to score.

“If (Ovechkin) gets a hat trick, well, there’s not much you can do.”

Crosby can’t allow the quest for 50 to effect his play.

“You know it’s there,” he said. “But if you dwell on it, you are cheating yourself. You are worrying about individual issues, not team issues.

“If I were to do that, I’d definitely be cheating myself. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself because of it.”

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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