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Penguins notebook: Baby Leafs can't scare Sidney Crosby

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, 1:36 p.m.

Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner can do almost anything on the ice for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They combined for 53 of Maple Leafs' 198 goals before their game against the Penguins on Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena.

But what they can't do is force Sidney Crosby to look over his shoulder.

After the optional morning skate Saturday, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was asked if the young Leafs — all 21 or younger — are pushing the 30-year-old Crosby.

“I'm sure he's pushed by a lot of guys,” Sullivan said. “That next generation of young talent is exciting for our league because these are exciting players.”

But he said Crosby doesn't need external motivation.

“I think Sid is just internally driven to be the best athlete he can be,” Sullivan said. “I have never been around an athlete, never mind a hockey player, who is as driven as Sid is.

“He has a willingness to prepare himself to be the best. That's why he's been the best player in the game for the past decade. No one is more internally driven than him.”

Crosby had points (two goals, 18 assists) in all 10 games of the Penguins' winning streak.

Leafs: No longer sneaky

The Penguins regularly have noted, especially during the first half of the season, that opponents often bring their best game against them.

Last year, Toronto was an upstart club whose rebuilding efforts were just beginning to take root. This year, it's firmly entrenched in the top three in the Atlantic Division and isn't sneaking up on anyone.

“Nope. Not anymore,” Penguins winger Bryan Rust said. “They were definitely a little bit surprising last year, but I think everyone knows about them now.”

Notable

Patric Hornqvist, who has been out with a lower body injury since Feb. 2, did not participate in the morning skate. “It's just part of the rehab process,” Sullivan said. “He's just going through the process.” Hornqvist recently has been skating on his own. ... Matt Murray had 62 victories in his first 100 games, the most among goalies to debut since 2005-2006. ... Jake Guentzel played in his 100th career game Saturday.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick makes a save on the Penguins' Sidney Crosby in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick makes a save on the Penguins' Sidney Crosby in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Kings' Dion Phaneuf defends on the Penguins' Phil Kessel in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Kings' Dion Phaneuf defends on the Penguins' Phil Kessel in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Kings' Drew Doughty defends on the Penguins Ryan Reaves in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Kings' Drew Doughty defends on the Penguins Ryan Reaves in the third period Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin beats Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson for his 900th point in the first period Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin beats Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson for his 900th point in the first period Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
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