PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is about to play his 500th game in the NHL, but only four have been against the Sharks. That helps explain why he never has scored a goal against San Jose.

Crosby gets a fifth chance in his milestone game Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins meet the Sharks in a matchup of division leaders.

If the Sharks are looking for tips on how to keep Crosby off the scoresheet again, they have a pretty valuable resource on their own bench. Tyler Kennedy was a Penguin -- and occasionally a linemate of Crosby's -- for six seasons before being acquired by San Jose for a second-round pick at the 2013 entry draft. And, yes, he has been looking forward to this return.

"It's exciting," he said this week. "I've got some great memories. My fiancee is from there. I have a lot of good friends outside hockey there. It was a great place to live, a great place to start my career."

Then he returns to the present.

"But," he added, "I think to come to San Jose was the right move for my career personally."

Kennedy's time in Pittsburgh ended awkwardly. He was a healthy scratch during the playoffs, the odd man out after general manager Ray Shero loaded up on veterans Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow in a go-for-broke move at the trade deadline that didn't pay off.

Still, Kennedy brushed off the suggestion he might be extra motivated to show the Penguins what they are missing.

"I don't know about that," he said. "Obviously you want to play your best every game, but I'm not too worried about what they think anymore. I'm more worried about what Todd (McLellan) and our coaching staff has to say more than trying to prove something.

"I have nothing to prove. I'd been there for six or seven years. They know what I can do," added Kennedy, who had 76 goals and 92 assists in his 372 games as a Penguin.

Wednesday, Kennedy held court with the Pittsburgh media. He talked about his new life -- the improved weather, the more challenging travel -- and his final days with his old team, noting that he parted on good terms.

And he agreed with the idea that Crosby, whose 38 points lead the NHL in scoring, is definitely on his game these days.

"And when Sid's on, he's on. He does that little bit extra," Kennedy said, adding, "I think we have the guys in here to stop him. It should be a good challenge for him and our team."

Any specific advice he can pass along to his new teammates about Crosby?

"Don't give him much room. That's the biggest thing," Kennedy said. "And you've got to make sure he plays in their end more than he does in our end. No matter what guy you play in hockey, if he's in his own end, he's not a threat."

Kennedy, 27, has found a home at left wing on the Sharks third line centered by Joe Pavelski. His 11 points in 27 games already match his total in 46 games with the Penguins last season, but Kennedy isn't satisfied.

"Obviously I wish my numbers were better, but I think that comes a little bit with a change, coming to a new team," he said.

Numbers aside, Kennedy was acquired for his style of play, which meshes with what the Sharks are finding success with.

And, McLellan said Wednesday, Kennedy has not disappointed.

"We thought he was a piece that could come in and play the way we wanted our team to play, with speed and a little bit of tenacity, hard and committed," McLellan said. "He's done all those things for us to this point."

Beyond a homecoming for Kennedy, the Sharks see the Penguins as a game against one of the NHL's top teams, though not quite the same as similar showdowns on their recent homestand against Western Conference powers.

"A lot of the teams out West are built a certain way, and these guys are built a little differently," Dan Boyle said. "It's going to be a different type of game for us to be involved in. They're one of the best teams in the East. We'll see how it goes."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

THURSDAY'S GAME
Sharks (19-3-5) at Pittsburgh (19-9-1), 4 p.m. CSNCA

rich lam/Getty Images
Tyler Kennedy (81) might give teammates Patrick Marleau (12) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) tips on how to play against former teammate Sidney Crosby.