Sidney Crosby hardly ever fights.
Seven times in his career. Six in the regular season, once in the playoffs. Three times since Nov. 3, 2010.
Yet there was Crosby, dropping the gloves Thursday in the second period of a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center, taking on Brandon Dubinsky.
I asked Crosby what triggered the fight, and he didn’t offer much.
“Nothing really,” Crosby said. “It wasn’t much of a fight anyway.”
Dubinsky was a bit more expansive, telling our Josh Yohe:
“I hit him in the corner. He tried to pulled me down. I was holding on to him. We both got up. He dropped his gloves. I obliged and dropped mine. He’s a competitor. Any chance you get a chance to trade off and take one of the best in the world to the box for five minutes, I’ll take it.”
Coach Mike Johnston said it was an “emotional” fight, the kind that happens between star players, not goons.
He also sounded less than interested in having one of his two franchise centers do such a thing.
“On occasion,” Johnston answered when Josh asked him if he was OK having his captain fight. “Those types of fights, they’re emotional fights. When top players go at each other in the game or the top player drops his gloves, it’s an emotional fight. Sometimes the other ones are a little bit more, where two guys bang together, they’re pretty tough guys, and they go at it.
“Sid showing that type of emotion, I think that’s positive. I wasn’t here for it, but I know what happened in the playoff series (in 2013-14). They had a long battle in that playoff series, Dubinsky and Sid. I think that was part of the carryover (Thursday).”
I wrote for Friday’s print product about the Penguins’ failure to elevate their game following Crosby’s fight and a key, five-on-three penalty kill late — things that should have theoretically given them some momentum. Enough to finally score on the power play, you would figure.
But that didn’t happen.
The Penguins continue to be maddeningly inconsistent. Let’s look at their past 10 games.
2/19 vs. Blue Jackets, 2-1 L (shots even)
2/17 vs. Capitals, 3-1 L (shots even)
2/15 at Blackhawks, 2-1 L (SO) (plus-5 shots)
2/12 at Senators, 5-4 W (SO) (minus-4 shots)
2/11 vs. Red Wings, 4-1 W (minus-3 shots)
2/7 at Canucks, 5-0 L (plus-4 shots)
2/6 at Flames, 4-0 W (plus-9 shots)
2/4 at Oilers, 2-0 W (plus-4 shots)
2/1 vs. Predators, 4-0 L (minus-3 shots)
1/30 at Devils, 2-1 W (OT) (plus-29 shots)
Grading simply pass or fail, here’s what my report card would like, starting with the Devils game and working forward: pass, fail, pass, pass, fail, pass, fail, pass, fail, fail.
Dead even, of course.
Chris Kunitz had three assists in Calgary and the game-tying goal late against New Jersey. In the other eight games? One assist.
Evgeni Malkin has three goals but no assists in the eight games since he returned from a groin injury. Crosby has seven points in those games and four goals, but the goals have been confined to two games.
The Penguins have been outscored 9-4 in their past 10 third periods.
“I think you have to look inside yourself and find a different level,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “There are certain things, whether they are mental or physical mistakes, that you just can’t make late in games. It takes each guy in here figuring that out.”
Some other nuggets from Thursday:
=Beau Bennett struggled. He was demoted to the fourth line for a stretch in the first period and played just 9:53.
=Kris Letang played 28:09. In a game that ended in regulation, mind you. That’s the 12th consecutive game Letang has led the Penguins in ice time, and this one wasn’t even close. Paul Martin was second at 21:10.
=Malkin scored the Penguins’ lone goal, his 22nd of the season. He has never NOT scored against Columbus. In nine games, he has 4-7–11.
Club practices at Southpointe on Friday. at 11:30 a.m. Talk you from there.
Be GRATEFUL to each other,