Pittsburgh Penguins fans can be excused for thinking their favorite team has at least partial ownership of the Art Ross Trophy, the prize handed out to the NHL’s leading scorer.
Since 1988, when Mario Lemieux won his first of six scoring titles, the Art Ross has been given to a Penguin 14 times in 25 seasons. Jaromir Jagr claimed five out of seven from the late 1990s to early 2000s, with Sidney Crosby (2007) and Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2012) keeping the tradition going.
It’s gotten to the point that the Penguins have a couple of banners hanging at Consol Energy Center commemorating all the times a Pittsburgh player has earned the Art Ross. In a few months, the seamstress may have to be summoned to add a 15th entry to the list, as Crosby and Malkin have staked out the top two spots on the scoring list a little more than a third of the way through the season.
Tuesday’s comeback victory on Long Island was emblematic of how much the Penguins have been propelled by Nos. 87 and 71. Malkin, riding a nine-game scoring streak during which he’s accumulated 19 points, briefly tied Crosby for the top spot late in the second period when he set up James Neal‘s power-play goal.
Malkin also earned the primary assist on Crosby’s tying tally in the third, Sid’s team-leading 14th of the year. It was quite the spectacle, with the two most dangerous offensive players in the world sitting at 37 points apiece and pushing together for the Penguins’ fourth straight win.
However, the deciding goal would be scored not because of expert collaboration, but via a dazzling display of individual skill. Crosby, who had scored “just” 13 points in 13 games entering the matchup against the Islanders, ended the game with one of the best plays of his prolific career, retaking the NHL scoring edge in the process.
Crosby’s second iconic goal against the Islanders of the calendar year not only lifted the Pens to their seventh win in the past nine games, but also indicated this might be the first season that features both of Pittsburgh’s star centermen clicking at top capacity.
While injuries are always a concern in the sport of hockey, we could be privy to a tandem scoring display the likes of which haven’t been seen in nearly 20 years. In 1995-96, Lemieux (161 points) and Jagr (149) terrorized the NHL while finishing 1-2 in the Art Ross chase.
Those totals would be a tough ask in today’s defensive-oriented game. Crosby and Malkin are on pace for 107 and 105 points if they play all 82 contests, which would be just as impressive in this era. Elite talents like John Tavares, Patrick Kane, Ryan Getzlaf and more are on the hunt, too, so a historic one-two punch is nowhere near a lock.
But no matter how the scoring race finishes, Crosby and Malkin are outshining the rest of the league with their dynamic abilities. Enjoy it now, because who knows when we’ll see something like it again.