If Sidney Crosby hadn't convinced everyone that he is the best player in the NHL in his first five seasons, he doesn't appear to be leaving any room for doubt now.
Crosby looks to extend his 16-game point streak and help the league-leading Pittsburgh Penguins to their 11th straight win Wednesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Consol Energy Center.
Despite winning a scoring title, a league MVP award, an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup by the age of 23, Crosby seems to be at the top of his game right now.
The league leader with 48 points in 29 games, Crosby has 18 goals and 15 assists during a 16-game point streak, the longest in the NHL this season and tied for the second longest of his career. Crosby had a 19-game streak Oct. 6-Nov. 17, 2007, but he has three more points during this run.
Although he failed to record a third straight multi-goal game, the Pittsburgh captain had a goal and an assist as the Penguins (19-8-2) tied the second-longest win streak in franchise history Monday night, beating New Jersey 2-1.
"I don't know if you get to appreciate how really quick he is," New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg said of Crosby. "He was behind both of their goals and probably was the difference."
The Maple Leafs (10-12-4) don't seem likely to slow Crosby, who has goals in five straight games against them with seven total in that span. He has 15 goals and 18 assists in 21 games versus Toronto.
Pittsburgh's 10-game win streak equals a 10-game run Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 1999. The Penguins' only longer such streak was an NHL-record 17-game run March 9-April 10, 1993, the season they failed to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup title after finishing with 119 points.
"Everyone's excited to be at the rink," Crosby's linemate Chris Kunitz said. "It's fun to be around when you're winning and having success. Right now, you've got to ride it."
Pittsburgh is 12-0-1 since giving up five goals in the third period of a 7-4 loss to Boston on Nov. 10, its last defeat in regulation. The Penguins have won six straight at home and are 9-2-1 there since opening their new arena with three consecutive losses.
While Crosby has played the biggest role for Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre Fleury has rebounded from a very slow start with stellar play of late. He has gone 11-0-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average in his last 12 starts after beginning the season 1-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA.
"It feels a little more relaxed," Fleury said. "Everyone is enjoying it. It was tough at the beginning, so it's nice to get some wins."
The Penguins have the potential to be even better when star forward Evgeni Malkin returns. The former NHL scoring champion has missed the last two games with a knee injury.
Toronto rallied from three goals down in the third period and beat Washington 5-4 in a shootout Monday night, ending an eight-game road losing streak. Clarke MacArthur scored twice for the Maple Leafs, who had two goals in their previous five road contests.
"It's two small steps in the right direction," said Jonas Gustavsson, who made 32 saves. "We can't be happy with this, but it shows a lot of character coming back in games, working hard, no matter what the scoreboard (says)."
Phil Kessel was limited to one assist Monday, leaving Toronto's best player with one goal in his last eight games.
The Leafs have gone 3-0-1 in their last four visits to Pittsburgh, getting two goals from MacArthur in a 4-3 victory there Oct. 13.