CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — With his team’s back to the proverbial wall, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby seemed relatively at ease Monday.
Yes, he’s well aware that the Penguins trail the Islanders 3-0 in the teams’ Stanley Cup first-round playoff series. And he’s well aware just how long the odds are against the Penguins coming back to win the series.
But Crosby still is one of the very best players in the world, and he is taking the position that his team can come back to win the series.
“It’s not the position you want to be in, but I think, that being said, I’d love to be a part of a team that comes back from that,’’ Crosby said after the Penguins canceled practice and had meetings instead. “It just comes down to winning one and getting some momentum.’’
The Islanders and Penguins will play Game 4 of their series at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, with the Islanders in position to advance to the second round. According to the NHL, teams that have taken a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series have won 186 series and lost four. One of the teams to rally from down 0-3 was the Islanders, who did it against the Penguins in a second-round series in 1975.
The Islanders, who have won all nine series in which they have taken a 3-0 series lead, have been careful to downplay their advantage. They remained cautious Monday.
“Sidney Crosby, in all of sports, might be one of the highest competitors, so we know he’s not going to let anything go easy,’’ forward Mathew Barzal said. “We just have to bring the same intensity we have and not look ahead and just take it period by period. And that’s how we’ll win.”
If Crosby intends to lead his team to an improbable comeback, it would help if he could find a way to provide some offense. He has no goals, no assists and a plus/minus rating of minus-6.
A few Penguins players have overcome a 3-0 deficit in the minors. In 2013, Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins, lost the first three games of their series against the Providence Bruins and rallied to win the next four.
“I think a few of us were there, so we know it can be done,’’ Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “Teams have done it before, and I think we still have a belief. I think the team that wins the series is the team that gets better throughout it, and if we win one, and we keep getting better, then it puts the pressure on them.’’