Sidney Crosby’s latest in a long line of achievements victimized the Winnipeg Jets last night. Facing away from the net and fighting through the left wing, Crosby relentlessly shrugged off a hounding Blake Wheeler. Gaining the puck, he immediately fed a pass into the slot where Chris Kunitz one-timed a shot past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck that gave Crosby the 1,000th point of his career. (The video below.)
Point number 1,000 came with a fair amount of anxiety. For several games now, Crosby has been at least a point or two away from the milestone he achieved last night. A recent road trip against the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes was expected to be easy enough for the Pittsburgh Penguins to allow Crosby to come home well in excess of 1,000 career points. And while the Pens collected three of four possible points during their road trip, Crosby collected zero.
Here’s a look at how he paced this achievement:
A Road Trip of Nothingness
Before their recent road trip, the Penguins played host to the Calgary Flames. While they lost the game in a shootout, Crosby picked up an assist which lifted his career point total to 998. For the next nine days, that number would not change.
A Messy Game in Colorado
A little over halfway through their incredibly flat first period, Pittsburgh had a power play opportunity. Crosby picked up a rebound near the slot for what would be his best scoring chance of the game. He moved to his backhand quickly and attempted to lift the puck past Avs goaltender Calvin Pickard.
Pickard denied him with a nifty save. Pittsburgh grabbed two points in the victory, Crosby had none.
The Arizona Game Was Worse
In the next game, the Pens headed south to visit the Arizona Coyotes, a team mired in last place in the Pacific Division.
Mediocrity was the story of the Penguins until about the 11-minute mark of the first period. Crosby took a pass up the boards in the neutral zone. As he gained speed into the Coyotes’ zone, he unleashed an impressively quick shot from the right wing circle that goaltender Mike Smith was able to steer aside.
Early in the second period of that same game, Crosby set up a great one-time opportunity for Patric Hornqvist which was again saved by Smith. That proved to be the last best chance for Crosby to get on the board as Arizona did well to mitigate Crosby throughout the remainder of the game.
The Pens escaped with a point. Crosby did not. And that wrapped up a disappointing trip out west.
Point 999 and a Missed Opportunity
Early in the third period of their recent shutout victory against the Vancouver Canucks, the Pens were up 1-0 when winger Jake Guentzel and Crosby played a little give-and-go, culminating in Guentzel’s first goal in ten games, and more importantly, Crosby’s 999th point.
Later in that same period, with the Pens up 3-0, Crosby broke in on goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller is a familiar foe, having faced Sid plenty of times during his time in Buffalo. And he had been the victim of Crosby’s big goals before. (Olympics, anyone?)
The long breakout pass from defenseman Kris Letang found Crosby in the neutral zone as he broke in behind several Canucks defenders. He quickly raced in on Miller, and in the blink of an eye, he went forehand-to-backhand twice. And then…
Ryan Miller casually padded it away as Crosby regrouped behind the net. Crosby and the Pens came away with a victory, but the former only netted a single point.
A Fitting End for Point Number 1,000
When Crosby fed that pass to Kunitz, marking his 1,000th point, Pittsburgh fans harkened back to a time when Kunitz was a mainstay on Crosby’s line.
It wasn’t long ago that the Pascal Dupuis-Crosby-Kunitz line was etched into what seemed like permanence. At the time of Crosby’s 1,000th point, Kunitz had factored into nearly 20% of those 1,000 points (185, according to TribLive.) Personally, I couldn’t have pictured a better way to earn number 1,000 than to do it with a longtime linemate and friend.
The Romans used the numeral M to signify the quantity 1,000. To me, the letter M can be used to describe what Crosby has just accomplished in a number of ways. Sid has been masterful, meticulous, monumental, or any other positive “m” word you’d prefer, on his way to point number 1,000. Like Le Magnifique before him, Crosby has carved his name alongside the NHL’s greatest. He may be number 87 to you and me, but he’s number 86 to achieve this milestone in the record books.
And while I expect he’ll extend his point total well beyond what he’s earned today, sometimes it takes a moment for it all to sink in. He’s no longer “Sid, the Kid.” He’s Sid with an M.