|Crosby and Penguins snap long scoring drought|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 28 May 2008 19:01|
The Penguins, who were shut out in the first two games of the series against the Detroit Red Wings, had gone 153 minutes, 22 seconds - dating to the final 15:57 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals - without scoring.
It was also the first goal allowed by the Red Wings' Chris Osgood in 154:58, stretching to Game 6 of the Western finals vs. Dallas.
Crosby scored two goals in the Penguins' 3-2 win Wednesday, giving him an NHL-leading 23 points in the playoffs. Pittsburgh trails the series 2-1.
``I wanted to play well. I think we all did,'' the 20-year-old captain said. ``We still have to keep going, but we sure needed this one. I think we all earned it, and that's the reward - a big win.''
BROKEN WINGS: The Red Wings trailed after the first period for the second time in 19 playoff games and fell to 0-2. They are also 0-4 when trailing after the second.
Detroit had only trailed for 122 minutes, 2 seconds (11 percent) in its first 18 playoff games, but the Red Wings were behind for all but 17:25 of their 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday night.
``We're not happy about the way we played,'' top line forward Henrik Zetterberg said. ``We made some mistakes and they took advantage of it and scored some goals.''
THIN ICE: Early in the third period, NBC's Pierre McGuire reported the quality of the ice had deteriorated and that the puck had begun bouncing more.
NHL facilities operations manager Dan Craig, the ice guru who is hockey's version of the NFL's George Toma, was watching the telecast at the time in the press room and disputed the claim to anyone within earshot.
``There's not a mark on that ice. Not a mark,'' he said before walking away.
Craig spent many a sleepless night back in December as he prepared the outdoor rink in advance of the Winter Classic in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Penguins won that one, too, a 2-1 shootout triumph over the Buffalo Sabres.
THE BIG TWO: For a few even-strength shifts, Penguins coach Michel Therrien moved struggling forward Evgeni Malkin to play alongside Sidney Crosby.
Malkin, who had only one goal and an assist in the six games before Wednesday, didn't earn a point again but played solidly. He recorded three shots and had an even rating after getting only one puck in on Chris Osgood in the first two games of the finals and a minus-1 mark.
``When we're put together, we know what the message is,'' Crosby said. ``We need to create an opportunity and at the same time momentum. We tried to do that.''
SYDOR'S IN: Darryl Sydor, a Stanley Cup winner with Dallas (1999) and Tampa Bay (2004), had only watched these playoffs. Usually, by himself.
It was an uncomfortable feeling for one of the Pittsburgh Penguins' most accomplished players and their only defenseman with a Stanley Cup ring. But Sydor understood the team was winning and coach Michel Therrien didn't want to break up a winning combination.
But Therrien sought to make changes following the Penguins' two Stanley Cup finals losses in Detroit, and Sydor finally got his chance. After not playing since March 30, Sydor played in Game 3 on Wednesday night, while disappointed rookie Kris Letang was scratched. Letang was a minus-2 in the two games in Detroit after being a plus-6 in the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia.
``I've always been in game mode, I watch the games like I'm playing the games,'' Sydor said. ``I watch by myself and I kind of get a little excited. At the end of the day, I know I can still play this game and play it at a high level and I have an opportunity to prove it.''
Team captain Sidney Crosby said his fellow players respect the 36-year-old Sydor and the way he plays with intensity and poise. Sydor is a Penguins alternate captain.
``He looked good out there,'' Crosby said after Pittsburgh's 3-2 win. ``He's been through some big games, won two Stanley Cups, so he knows what it's like to play in big games.''
Therrien said he made the change because Sydor is a proven player and is capable of stepping into the lineup seamlessly despite his long layoff. During the season, Sydor most often was paired with Ryan Whitney.
TROPHY COLLECTION: Alex Ovechkin pointed his cell phone at the impressive trophies he had just laid claim to and snapped a picture.
The Washington Capitals star, the odds-on favorite to be the NHL MVP, was honored Wednesday at the Stanley Cup finals for having the most goals and points during the regular season.
Ovechkin recorded 65 goals and 112 points, joining Jarome Iginla in 2002 as the only players to win the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies in the same season. He admired the hardware after accepting it at a luncheon and then did what any 22-year-old hockey fan would, he saved the moment on his phone.
That was, of course, after he used it to send a text message just before taking questions at the podium from reporters.
He likely will add the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP to his collection next month, and has his sights set on being back to the finals in a much greater capacity.
``It was a good year, but it was not my best year,'' Ovechkin said of his third NHL season. ``With the Stanley Cup, I say it's my best year. I'm happy I take this cup, but the biggest cup is not in my hands. Soon, probably.''
AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson contributed to this report.