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Penguins

Penguins' Sullivan not expecting cooldown from Malkin, Crosby, Kessel

Jonathan Bombulie
| Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, 11:00 a.m.
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin plays against the Canucks on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin plays against the Canucks on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 at Consol Energy Center.

ST. LOUIS – Because of his profession, not necessarily his personality, Mike Sullivan is a worrier.

It's his job to make sure his team is prepared for any situation it may run into during the course of an 82-game hockey season, so he spends some of his time thinking about any potential pitfalls that may stand in the way.

There's one thing he doesn't spend any time fretting over, however: The possibility that his red-hot top scorers are about to turn cold.

Since Jan. 1, Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel have been the top three scorers in the league.

Heading into Sunday's game in St. Louis, Malkin had 16 goals and 27 points in his last 16 games. Sidney Crosby had 22 assists and 25 points. Kessel had eight goals and 23 points.

If they went cold, the Penguins would have to scramble to find enough offense to continue the 11-4-1 run they're on in 2018.

Sullivan doesn't worry about that possibility because the way he sees it, Malkin, Crosby and Kessel aren't playing over their heads.

“No, not really, because I don't think they're playing out of their comfort zone,” Sullivan said. “I think that's what they are. These guys are 30-plus goal scorers. They're point-a-game-plus guys. They have been time and time again, year in and year out. That's what they do.”

Sullivan took his confidence in his top scorers one step further. He identified one area where they could be even more prolific than they have been over the past month.

“When Sid gets his next goal, I think it's going to open the floodgates for him,” Sullivan said of his captain, who carried a 10-game goal drought into Sunday. “From that standpoint, I think there's a lot of upside for our team to score more goals, just with Sid alone.

“I don't worry about those guys. They're just playing in their comfort zone. They're elite players.”

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

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