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Sharp Points, Round Numbers On The Table

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Don’t everyone rush to remind Sidney Crosby – the Pittsburgh Penguins captain is just a smidge superstitious – but he still has a chance to reach 100 points with the team down to three regular-season games remaining.

Sure, the Penguins’ top priority is clinching a playoff spot and finishing as high in the Metropolitan Division standings as they can. They can clinch as early as Tuesday night. But there are several rounds numbers and milestones still attainable, including Crosby hitting the century mark for the sixth time and the first since 2013-14.

Crosby leads the team with 94 points, giving him three games to get six points. That’s not out of reach for him, of course, but he’s gone a little dry lately, with one point in the past five games, two in the past eight.

Those were both assists. He has no goals in the past 10 games. Since we’re looking at round numbers, if he can break out of that with two goals in the final three games, he will reach 35.

He isn’t the only one who can reach 100 points. The Penguins as a team can hit triple digits with three points over their final three games.

Crosby, by the way, has 1,210 career points. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin has 1,211, with one fewer game to play this season. Bobby Clarke also had 1,210. Within reach perhaps for Crosby and Ovechkin are Jeremy Roenick, 43rd all-time in league history at 1,216, and Larry Murphy, 42nd at 1,217. Plus, of course, bragging rights for whoever is ahead after this season, Crosby or Ovechkin.

How about some other numbers to watch for?

Crosby’s linemate, Jake Guentzel, needs two goals to reach 40. Crosby was the last on the team to crack that total, with 44 in 2016-17.

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Winger Phil Kessel needs one goal for 25 and one game-winning goal for a team-leading 10, but, well, they haven’t exactly been piling up for him lately.

Winger Jared McCann is a goal away from his first 20-goal season. His first eight came with Florida pre-trade, but 11 goals in 29 games with the Penguins has been pretty noticeable.

Sticking with the 20-goal plateau, wingers Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust are two away.

Forward Nick Bjugstad, if he goes on a tear, will reach 100 career goals if he can net five.

It might be a cool thing for all the Penguins’ skaters to finish on the plus side of plus-minus, regardless of what anyone thinks of that statistic, but, well, that’s not one of the attainable numbers, not with center Evgeni Malkin at minus-24 and Kessel at minus-18.

Kessel, Guentzel and defenseman Jack Johnson are the only players who can appear in all of the team’s 82 games. Everyone else who has been with the club all season has missed at least three games. One big asterisk belongs to defenseman Marcus Pettersson, who can finish with 83 games played between Anaheim and the Penguins.

Forward Matt Cullen, the oldest player in the league at 42, Tuesday night at Detroit is expected to tie Steve Yzerman for 19th place all-time in the NHL with 1,514 games. He will take over 19th place alone if he plays in another one of the final two games.

Goalie Matt Murray is one shutout from tying Les Binkley for third place on the Penguins’ all-time list with 11.

And finally, with two home games remaining before the playoffs, the Penguins should hit 571 consecutive sellouts. Of course, that streak includes regular-season and playoff games, so it is highly likely to continue to grow next week.

 

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Shelly is the newest columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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