Rested Crosby, Penguins visit banged-up Canucks
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Some rest is doing wonders for Sidney Crosby.
The Pittsburgh captain has three goals in his past two games as the Penguins prepare to visit the injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. The goals came after the Penguins enjoyed some rest for a few days in the scenic Rocky Mountain town of Banff, Alta., before visiting Edmonton and Calgary.
"It was good that we got out here (to Western Canada) fairly early to get our feet under us, time change and all that stuff," Crosby told reporters. "Banff was a great trip, it's beautiful there and we had some good practices.
"It was good we didn't have to deal with back-to-backs. Usually you're dealing with a back-to-back at some point out here. We get to play every second day and get some rhythm."
Crosby scored two goals Tuesday in Edmonton, where he outperformed two-time defending NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid, and notched another marker in Calgary on Thursday as the Penguins shellacked the Flames 9-1. Before this week, Crosby had gone the first six games of the season without a goal for the first time in his career.
Two of his goals have come on seemingly impossible plays featuring backhands.
"He's one of the best players not just shooting with his backhand, but playing on his backhand," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan told reporters.
Crosby's surge has helped the Penguins post three straight wins since their last loss, which came at home to the Canucks on October 16. But the Pens will face a distinctly different Vancouver team Saturday.
The Canucks are expected to be without injured defensemen Alex Edler (knee) and Chris Tanev (hip) as well as winger Sven Baetschi, one of their most offensively gifted forwards. Rookie center Elias Pettersson, who took the NHL by storm before suffering a concussion, and winger Brock Boeser, the club's leading scorer last season, are questionable as they continue to recover from their health woes. All five players were missing from Thursday's 4-1 road loss to Arizona.
With Baertschi, Pettersson and Boeser hurting, other Canucks are hoping to pick up the offensive slack. Vancouver players lamented their scoring struggles against the Coyotes.
Lou Eriksson, who earns $6 million per season but has not scored since February, hopes to do better after being stopped on a nice setup from Bo Horvat on a two-on-one Thursday.
"It's too bad because I can't find a way to score a goal right now," Eriksson told Sportsnet.ca. "Of course, it's frustrating. You always want to score goals and right now they're not coming."
Meanwhile, fellow forward Nikolay Goldobin is trying to stay positive after going nine games without a point.
I'm going to stick with it, I guess," he told Sportsnet. "Luck will come."
The Canucks are also looking to improve defensively after they allowed the Coyotes to break open a 1-1 tie with three unanswered goals in the third period.
Defenseman Derrick Pouliot hopes to do better after his blatant giveaway in the Canucks end led to the winning goal.
"Past couple of games haven't been great," he told Sportsnet.ca. "It's not a secret; I'm not going to hide from that. You've got to find a way to... turn things around."
The Canucks will need to turn things around quickly, because it's hard to tell what Crosby -- not to mention the Penguins' strong supporting cast -- will do next.
Updated October 26, 2018