TORONTO - At nearly 34 years old, Pascal Dupuis is having another career season, thanks in large part, of course, to Sidney Crosby.
Dupuis scored the tying and winning goals in the third period of the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday for the second time in five days.
Dupuis has become the silent weapon on Pittsburgh's top line with linemates Crosby and Chris Kunitz being No. 1 and 2 in NHL scoring.
"I see it every day in practice and in games," said Dupuis of Crosby. "Every time he touches the ice he makes special plays."
After his two-goal game Thursday, he has 13 goals and 19 points in 28 games this season. Over a full 82-game campaign, he'd be on pace for 38 goals and 56 points, after posting career highs of 25 goals and 59 points last season.
To put his scoring prowess this season in perspective, Dupuis has scored all but one of his 13 goals at even-strength. That ties him for second in the NHL, one behind Steven Stamkos, who leads the league and is the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner.
Crosby's assisted on nine of Dupuis' 13 goals and set up both of his linemate's goals on Thursday night.
The first was one for the highlight reels.
"It was a great play by Sid," said Dupuis. "Around the back, no-look (pass), he finds me backdoor with an empty cage—I just got to put it in."
"Tonight was a result of me being there by myself while he found me. Obviously you got to put those in."
Passes like that from Crosby are nothing new to Dupuis.
After a seven-game goal-less drought, Dupuis has six goals in his past five games. He also scored in Pittsburgh's 5-4 shootout win over Toronto on Saturday night.
For more that 52 minutes, however, the Leafs kept the Penguins' high-flying first line, and the entire Pittsburgh team, off the score sheet. Toronto led 1-0 until Crosby's behind-the-back pass to Dupuis in front of the net for his first goal at 12:42 of the third period.
"I don't know where it ended up, but I just tried to put it there close to him," Crosby said. "He was ready for it and made a great play to put it into the net."
Dupuis was in the right place at the right time on the Penguins second goal, too, charging into the slot area to take a pass for Kunitz, who's assisted on 10 of Dupuis' 13 goals.
It is Dupuis' third two-goal game of the season, but he knows the Penguins cut it close against the Leafs.
"We can't make it a habit to come back on teams, but we certainly know we can," Dupuis said. "We can't play with fire."