Sid the Kid cuts Maple Leafs down to size

Penguins forward Sidney Crosby bowls over Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn in Pittsburgh,...

Penguins forward Sidney Crosby bowls over Maple Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 28, 2010. (JASON COHN/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — You can talk about getting in Sidney Crosby’s face or cutting down his time and space.

You can talk about hitting him hard and throwing him off his game.

But stopping him this season has become little more than wishful thinking for opponents around the NHL.

The Maple Leafs were the latest victim Wednesday night at the Consol Energy Center as the Penguins captain scored a pair of goals in a 5-2 win to continue the most prolific offensive outburst of Sid the Kid’s decorated and still-improving career.

Both Crosby goals showed different aspects of his sublime offensive talent as he moved to 26 in 30 games putting him on pace for 71 on the season. In extending his points scoring streak to 17 games, Crosby also helped his NHL-leading team to an 11th consecutive victory.

When he’s on this kind of a run, opponents are at a loss for finding ways to getting in the way of the surging superstar.

“If it was that easy, everybody would be shutting (Crosby) down,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said following the game day skate, hours before his team became the latest Sid the Kid casualty.

“He’s a special player. You have to minimize the damage.”

Though they obviously aren’t alone, the Leafs didn’t have the tools for that on Wednesday. Crosby opened the scoring 6:13 into the game as Crosby showed his instinct as he cruised to the net and easily grabbed a rebound of a Chris Kunitz shot that rattled off the post.

It didn’t hurt that Leafs’ defenceman Mike Komisarek allowed him to cruise in free.

The second one though showed off the goal-scorer’s touch that has really started to blossom this season. Cruising in on a two-on-one, Crosby feathered a pass from Kunitz that snuck by Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson

As prolific as his goal-scoring touch has become, Crosby swears he hasn’t worked on anything specific. Instead, it just appears to be the natural evolution of one of the game’s most gifted offensive players.

“Some guys try to work on specific things and really make sure they have those skills perfected,” Crosby said following Wednesday’s morning skate. “It depends on the specific player.

“For me, yeah, there are things I’m always working on that I feel important to me having success and the team having success.

“I don’t think that will ever change. I’ve executed well around the net, but I don’t feel like I’ve done that much different, to be honest.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said teams have tried all sorts of things to stymie his superstar but none have found the recipe.

“There’s teams that look to play maybe a little bit more physical on him,” Bylsma said on Wednesday. “That’s one way they try to go after him and take him off his game. But I don’t see him making adjustments to what people are trying to do.

Here’s another reason why his teammates admire Crosby, though it’s not a popular view outside the Steel City, dating back to his rookie season.

After getting hit by the Leafs’ Jay Rosehill, Crosby got involved in a skirmish behind the Penguins net. Of course, his opponents complain that Crosby gets away with too much of that junk.

The the double minor Crosby took started a minor Leafs rally, however, as Tyler Bozak buried a rebound at 4:36 of the third.

Four minutes later, Mikhail Grabovski’s snapshot found the corner high glove side on Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and suddenly it was a game.

The loss ended the Leafs’ modest two-game win streak as they return home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre.


Videos

Photos