Race to the Rocket Richard trophy


, 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 wont stop either superstar from keeping their eyes on the prize, the coveted Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded annually to the NHLs 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, its a simple matter of been there, done that.

As for Crosby, hell 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 thats normal. But I dont want to think about it too much. If its going to happen, its going to happen. Well see if its meant to be.

Its tough. Every game is tight right now. But thats part of the job too. Youve got to find a way to score.

If (Ovechkin) gets a hat trick, well, theres not much you can do.

Crosby cant allow the quest for 50 to effect his play.

You know its 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, Id definitely be cheating myself. And I wouldnt be able to live with myself because of it.