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Penguins

Hitting 400 proves elusive for Penguins' Sidney Crosby

Jonathan Bombulie
| Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, 5:27 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby plays against the Bruins Friday, Dec. 18, 2105 at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby plays against the Bruins Friday, Dec. 18, 2105 at Consol Energy Center.

ST. LOUIS — Sidney Crosby has overcome some steep obstacles in his decade-plus in the NHL. He's bounced back from serious concussion issues and captained the league's first back-to-back champions in almost two decades.

He never thought getting his career goal total to tick over from 399 to 400 would be on that list of difficult accomplishments, yet here we are.

Crosby scored the 399th goal of his career in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 14. Ten games and nearly a month later, he remains stuck on that figure as the Penguins prepare to face the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon.

“Be nice to get it,” Crosby said after practice Saturday at the Scottrade Center.

It's a perfectly nice milestone — only 94 NHL players and two Penguins have hit it — but Crosby said he rarely thinks about his career goal total unless he's being asked about it by reporters.

But here's the weird part:

For whatever reason — perhaps they were distracted by the emotional return of Marc-Andre Fleury to Pittsburgh last week or the prodigious point totals Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have been combining for lately — reporters have pretty much stopped asking about it.

“Maybe that's because I'm taking so long,” Crosby said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Crosby has a few good reasons to not sweat his 10-game goal drought.

For one thing, he has 13 assists during the span. For another, the Penguins are 6-3-1 during the stretch, averaging 3.7 goals per game.

It's a slump for Crosby. For most NHL players, it would be a hot streak.

“I don't like going that long without scoring, but I feel like there have been some really good chances, and we're playing well,” Crosby said. “It's not easy to take ever, but I think when you're winning, it takes the sting off it a little more.”

If Crosby were to hit the 400 mark Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, he will have accomplished something. The Blues have won six of their last eight and are a big, physical group that will probably do its best to rough up the Penguins' stars.

That's the same strategy the Dallas Stars used in a 4-3 shootout win over the Penguins on Friday night. It's the same tactic teams have used countless times over the years against Crosby.

He said he doesn't mind it.

“It's good,” Crosby said. “You get up for games like that. You get into games like that.”

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

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