June 9, 2017 / 9:31 PM / 2 years ago

Sidney Crosby has Penguins closing in on repeat Stanley Cup

(The Sports Xchange) - Simple answers, the kind that put team ahead of self, have been staples for Sidney Crosby in his 12 NHL seasons.

Jun 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates the victory against the Nashville Predators following the third period in game five of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins center is one win away from captaining his team to its second Stanley Cup in a row, and third during his career. That could happen as early as Sunday in Game Six in Nashville against the Predators.

Yet Crosby doesn’t gush, at least not publicly.

Consider his description of the opening couple minutes Thursday in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final when Crosby launched the Penguins toward a 6-0 win and a 3-2 series lead.

“We had a great start,” he said. “Wanted to make sure that we played on our toes. I thought we did a great job of that.”

Here’s what really happened:

Crosby, on the game’s first shift, carried the puck over the blue line and bulled his way through strong Nashville defensive pair Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. He drew a holding penalty against Ellis while ringing a shot off the left post.

On the ensuing power play, Crosby set up Justin Schultz for a 1-0 lead, and the tone for the game was set.

Crosby finished with three assists to reach 27 points, one behind Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin for the NHL postseason scoring lead.

Crosby, Malkin and playoffs goals leader Jake Guentzel would seem to be the favorites to win the playoff MVP if the Penguins close out the series.

If Crosby, 29, wins that trophy, he will match the two that Penguins owner and Hall of Fame center Mario Lemieux won.

Asked about being so close to lifting the Cup again, Crosby quickly reverted to form.

“Still a lot of work to be done, but the way we played (Thursday) night, if we can build off that momentum that’s important, but we know we’re going to face a desperate team,” he said.

What Crosby does, rather than what he says, is what counts.

“What I’ve really grown to admire and respect about Sid is not only is he a talented player, because there’s a lot of talented players; I just think he has such a drive to be the best, and he’s willing to do what it takes,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He doesn’t just show up to the rink and put his equipment on. He controls everything within his power to be the very best.”

Editing by Gene Cherry

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