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Vintage Sidney Crosby in midst of prolific scoring streak

Jonathan Bombulie
| Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, 8:27 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby fends off the Sabres' Josh Gorges in the third period Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby fends off the Sabres' Josh Gorges in the third period Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby beats Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott for the game winner in overtime Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby beats Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott for the game winner in overtime Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.

The main character enters a bedroom lit only by a small lamp on the nightstand. He slips off his shoes and places his three Stanley Cup rings on the top of the dresser with a clank.

He wearily trudges across the room and sits tentatively on the edge of the bed. As he slowly rocks back and forth, he stares at his hands. He's on the verge of tears.

“No goals and three assists in 11 games? Hands, why have you forsaken me?” he screams in desperation into the darkness.

And, scene.

That certainly would make for a dramatic moment when the movie of Sidney Crosby's life is made someday. It really would give Andy Samberg a chance to show off his serious acting chops.

The problem, of course, is it doesn't come anywhere close to reality.

If Crosby hadn't been generating any scoring chances during his early season scoring slump that lasted not quite a month, perhaps he would have tried the whole staring-at-his-hands routine.

But he was, so he didn't.

Instead, he put his faith in math — that the law of averages inevitably would take over and the bounces eventually would even out — and it's paying some handsome dividends these days.

“The frustrating part is not getting the chances. That's the frustrating part,” Crosby said after practice Monday at PPG Paints Arena. “As far as them not going in, I feel like experience tells me if you keep getting them, they're going to go in.”

They're going in now, all right.

Crosby snapped his 11-game drought with a power-play goal against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 14. Since that moment, he's leading the league in scoring, recording seven goals and nine assists in his past nine games.

“I don't have a great explanation for you,” Crosby said with a shrug. “I think it's just pucks going in the net. Last game, you get an empty netter. Sometimes that's the way it goes. You just try to keep going to the same places and trust it's going to keep going in.”

Crosby has at least one goal and one assist in the past five games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that's the first time he had a run like that in his career, and it's the first time any Penguins player accomplished the feat since Jaromir Jagr in October 1999.

In other words, it's vintage Crosby at the peak of his powers.

“The way he's playing, he makes everyone want to be better,” defenseman Justin Schultz said. “He's obviously a huge part of this team and a big reason why we've started to get some traction here.”

Schultz brings up an interesting point. The Penguins are 6-3 since Crosby ended his goal drought, going on a four-game winning streak for the first time this season. Before that point, the Penguins were limping along with a 9-7-3 record.

Do the Penguins win because Crosby scores, or does Crosby score because the team around him is playing winning hockey?

Crosby humbly believes the latter.

“When a team's playing well, everybody benefits,” he said.

His coach forcefully disagrees.

“I think he's inspiring with the way he plays,” Mike Sullivan said. “He just plays the game so hard. He plays in the battle areas. I think his game is inspiring to his teammates. It certainly is to his coaching staff.

“When he plays that way, I think his energy and his compete level trickles down the bench. I think that's the influence he has on our team. As a result, I think we're getting a more complete game, a more competitive game throughout our lineup when Sid's on his game like he is right now.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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