Sports

Crosby among goal-scoring greats; Dubnyk goes from castaway to star; NHL's best line?

Sometimes lost in Sidney Crosby's many accomplishments is his prowess as a goal-scorer.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain is actually one of the greats of his generation with respect to finding the back of the net.

Since entering the NHL in 2005, Crosby has scored 353 goals, a mark bettered by only Alex Ovechkin (537) and Jarome Iginla (364). His seven seasons of 30-plus goals trail only Ovechkin and Iginla, and his nine seasons of 20 goals or more are surpassed by just five players: Ovechkin (11), Jeff Carter (10), Iginla (10), Rick Nash (10), and Thomas Vanek (10).

Crosby was on pace for 64 goals in the 2010-11 season (32 in 41 games) before a mid-season concussion derailed not only that year, but his career for a brief period. In the seven seasons where he played at least 77 games the now-29-year-old has averaged 37 goals, including a career-high 51 in 2009-10.

Stretch back over the past three decades and Crosby ranks among the game's greatest snipers.

Goals per-game leaders since 1986-87:

1. Mario Lemieux: 0.79

2. Cam Neely: 0.66

3. Ovechkin: 0.62 

4. Pavel Bure: 0.62 

5. Brett Hull: 0.58 

6. Pat LaFontaine 0.57 

7. Steven Stamkos: 0.55 

8. Ilya Kovalchuk: 0.51 

9. Eric Lindros: 0.49

10. Crosby: 0.49

Crosby leads the league this season with 15 goals in 16 games, including three last week, despite starting almost two weeks late.

FROM CASTAWAY TO STAR

The goalie with the most shutouts this season and most since the start of the 2014-15 season is not Carey Price, but the Minnesota Wild's Devan Dubnyk. The former first round pick of the Edmonton Oilers has a league-leading four shutouts this year and 15 over the past two-plus seasons, a mark equalled only by the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury.

Only Price, meanwhile, has a better even-strength save percentage this season than Dubnyk's .956 mark for Minnesota (minimum 10 starts).

It was less than two years ago that the Oilers traded the Regina native to Nashville. In a span of almost one year exactly he bounced from the Predators to the Canadiens to the Coyotes before settling in with the Wild, where he inked a six-year deal worth US$26 million in the summer of 2015.

NHL'S BEST LINE?

Arguably the NHL's most effective line a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 season is Boston's trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. The unit boasts a ridiculous 66-per-cent puck possession mark in almost 160 minutes together at even-strength, combining for 16 goals and 31 points over that time.

INJURIES GALORE

Shutting out Nashville on Sunday night, the Jets continue to survive despite a litany of injuries to key players.

Currently on injured reserve for Winnipeg: Bryan Little (23 games missed), Shawn Matthias (14), Mathieu Perrault (13), Tyler Myers (13 over two stints on IR), and Joel Armia (13). Drew Stafford (15 games), Mark Stuart (11), and rookie Kyle Connor (five) also missed time with injury before recently returning to the Winnipeg lineup.

Just a point back of a wild-card spot, the Jets have survived primarily because of the play of Mark Scheifele (24 points), Nikolaj Ehlers (19), Patrik Laine (18) and Blake Wheeler (16), though the offence came to a halt during a recent five-game losing streak with six goals. Goaltending and special teams have both been spotty, but Connor Hellebuyck did pitch a 42-save shutout in topping the Predators.

BETWEEN THE POSTS

— Cam Ward started poorly in October (.869 save percentage), but he's been among the NHL's best in November. Ward yielded only five goals during Carolina's recent five-game win streak and has a .941 save percentage this month. He's surrendered two goals or less in all but one of those 11 starts.

— Matt Murray has picked up right where he left off after helping the Penguins to a Cup win as a rookie goaltender last spring. The 22-year-old, sidelined by a broken hand in October, is 7-1-0 with a 1.75 goals against average and .939 save percentage.

— Brian Elliott was expected to solidify the Flames woes in goal, but he's already lost his starting job to Chad Johnson, who's compiled a 7-4-1 record and .922 save percentage in 12 starts. Elliott, meanwhile, has dropped his last six starts, surrendering 22 goals with a .870 save percentage in that span.

LONG ISLAND WOES

The Islanders were supposed to compete for another playoff berth this season, but instead they've looked more like a lottery team.

New York's struggles are tied to poor special teams and an anemic offence, one that's scored two or less in seven straight games (1-4-2) and is on pace for about 30 fewer goals from last season. The Islanders are paying for the price for questionable off-season decisions, primarily their failure to adequately replace Kyle Okposo (22 goals, 64 points last year) and Frans Nielsen (20 and 52), who both departed via free agency.

Andrew Ladd was supposed to fill Okposo's void on the team's top line, but he's slumped to just two goals and three points thus far, while finding a spot recently on the team's fourth line.   

A pair of defencemen, Dennis Seidenberg and Nick Leddy, are tied for third on the team with four goals apiece.