After a sluggish start to the season, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby is heating up, and so is his team.
On Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center, Crosby recorded a hat trick to lift the Penguins to a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. It's the Penguins' fifth win in their last six games.
For Crosby, it's his seventh goal in that six-game span as he is now up to 20 on the season. Not bad for a player who had just two goals in Pittsburgh's first 18 games.
Crosby was held off of the scoresheet until the second period as he saw his side squander a 2-0 lead and go down 4-3 to the Senators. That's when "The Kid" took over.
Six minutes into the second, he tallied his first of the night, a power-play goal to tie the game at four:
Ten minutes later, he notched his second, again on the power play to give the Penguins their lead back.
He won't score an easier goal, as a centering feed from Phil Kessel came right in front of goaltender Craig Anderson's pads and right to the stick of Crosby, who slotted home the chance into an empty net:
His third goal came in the third period to put the Penguins up two. Again, Crosby was the benefactor of a fortuitous roll of the puck as it came out to him right in front of Anderson's goal. He slotted it home like any premier goal scorer would with relative ease:
All three of his goals were unanswered by any teammate or the Senators. It's been quite some time since Crosby had a natural hat trick like that, as Sportsnet Stats pointed out. In fact, it's been so long that the last team he did it against doesn't exist anymore:
Sportsnet Stats @SNstats
This is Sidney Crosby's first natural Hat Trick since December 2, 2010 vs Atlanta.2016-2-3 02:21:38
96.1 Kiss was loving what it was seeing from him:
961 KISS @961KISS
Sidney! Crosby! Hat! Trick! @penguins https://t.co/vVqPz63kck2016-2-3 02:20:16
The Penguins were pretty excited too:
Pittsburgh Penguins @penguins
HAT TRICK! SIDNEY CROSBY! That's his ninth career hat trick. #Pens lead 6-4 with 13:20 left. #NHLAllStar? https://t.co/fp4NkZJsMW2016-2-3 02:18:19
Fan account Sidney Crosby's Ego found reason for its pride to swell even more after Tuesday:
Sidney Crosby's Ego @SidneyCrosbyEgo
Did you know that Captain Clutch in Canadian means Sidney Crosby.2016-2-3 01:56:44
And Pens Blog's Jesse Marshall wanted to remind people how silly their complaints about Crosby sound now that he's on fire:
For a Penguins team that looked like it'd have to scramble to earn a playoff spot earlier this year, it is currently in the thick of a crowded Eastern Conference race that has seed Nos. 3 through 9 separated by just two points.
If Crosby keeps playing the way he is now, then Pittsburgh should have no problem snagging one of those spots that's up for grabs.
Stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.