CRANBERRY, Pa — Sidney Crosby has never accomplished what Patrik Laine pulled off Saturday.
Laine scored five goals on five shots for the Winnipeg Jets in an 8-4 win against the St. Louis Blues. Crosby, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, has 10 hat tricks in the NHL but has never scored more than three goals in 883 games.
Crosby isn’t jealous. He’s impressed.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Crosby said. “I think he had five shots on net, so that’s even more incredible. He’s a goal-scorer. He’s shown that since he’s got into the League. But pretty amazing what he was able to do.”
The Penguins will try to slow down the 20-year-old right wing when they face the Jets at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV). Laine, who leads the NHL with 19 goals and has 11 in his past four games, has scored one goal in four games against Pittsburgh.
Crosby has five points (one goal, four assists) in three games since returning from an upper-body injury. The 31-year-old center looks forward to playing against Laine, who he thinks has established himself as one of the best pure shooters in the NHL.
“I think, like any young player, you just gain confidence every year,” Crosby said. “With his shot, he’s well aware of the shot he has, and he uses it. He’s got great hands. But yeah, his shot sticks out the most.”
Pittsburgh (9-8-5) is 2-0-2 after going 1-7-1 in its previous nine. Winnipeg (13-7-2) is 6-3-1 in November.
Defenseman Kris Letang said the Penguins would attempt to guard against Laine’s “bomb of a shot,” but also have to be aware of the Jets’ other key players.
“We’re going to play a guy that scored five goals,” Letang said. “Obviously, we’re going to pay big attention to him, but they still have a lot of weapons. They’re a good hockey team. They’re a contender every year. So we’re just going to have to play a good, solid road game with a defensive conscience and that’s it.”
Goalie Casey DeSmith, who is 5-3-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 14 games (10 starts), said he views stopping Laine’s shot as a welcome test. He also said it opens eyes when any player scores five goals in the modern NHL.
“It just shows he can finish,” DeSmith said. “I think three of those goals were off the post and one was a one-timer deal. The guy knows how to score and that’s pretty impressive. The chances, today in this game that we’re playing now, chances are hard to come by.”