Penguins Notebook: Crosby three points away from 100 again

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It could have happened Saturday, given the number of strong scoring chances Sidney Crosby had before he netted the third-period winner in the Penguins' 4-3 victory against the New York Rangers.

Any game now, Crosby will reach 100 points for the third time in his four NHL seasons. He has 97 points, which ranked third in the NHL through yesterday.

Interim coach Dan Bylsma wasn't swayed by the goals Crosby didn't get Saturday.

"Sid had a good game," Bylsma said yesterday. "He had several good chances to score a goal. He had a big opportunity in the third. It's a clutch play by a guy who's done it before."

Fellow Penguins center Evgeni Malkin already has crested the triple-digit plateau. He leads the NHL with 107 points.

That's the second consecutive 100-point season for Malkin, giving the Penguins four seasons in a row with a player over the century mark.

Crosby had 102 as a rookie in 2005-06, led the league with 120 in 2006-07 but fell to 72 last season because of a high ankle sprain. Malkin picked up the slack, finishing second in the league with 106.

When Crosby banks three more points, the Penguins will have two 100-point scorers in the same season for the first time since 1995-96, when center Mario Lemieux finished with 161 and winger Jaromir Jagr had 149.

Malkin has a seven-point lead over Washington's Alex Ovechkin in the NHL scoring race.

"I'm not nervous," Malkin said. "Ovechkin good player and Sid good player. It's six more games. Who win, I don't know."

Malkin, in his third NHL season, is two points shy of 300 for career.

Eaton OK

Defenseman Mark Eaton, who got multiple stitches in his nose and under the left side of his jaw when he was hit into the boards by Rangers winger Colton Orr, practiced, did not use a shield or other extra equipment and should be OK to play tomorrow.

"I don't believe [Eaton] was that good looking before, so I don't think getting a couple stitches and his nose being inflamed a little is going to be reason for him to come out of the lineup," Bylsma cracked.

That means Eaton won't be replaced by Philippe Boucher, who has been awaiting a chance to get back in the lineup since he came off injured reserve March 20 after recovering from foot surgery.

Eaton, by the way, had not gotten around to watching a replay of the hit.

Slap shots

Crosby spent a school year playing at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota. That school's team is one of 12 competing in the USA Hockey 18-and-under Tier I national championships today through Sunday at the RMU Island Sports Center. "It's pretty cool that that's the way it works out," Crosby said. "It wasn't that long ago that I was playing there. I'm hoping to get a chance to go say hi at least. I wish them all the luck there." ... A 1-0 victory against Hershey Sunday clinched an American Hockey League playoff berth for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins for the seventh season in a row and eighth season of their 10-year history. It also gave goaltender John Curry his 31st win, breaking the club's season record of 30 set by Dany Sabourin. ... The Penguins last night dressed in tuxedos and worked as servers at their annual "Skates & Plates" charity dinner at The Pennsylvanian.


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