Pittsburgh Penguins Beat Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Shootout as Sidney Crosby Scores Before Alex Ovechkin Is Stopped
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sidney Crosby was the focus of 18,277 fans from the moment he stepped onto the ice for warmups. Many booed him. Others held up signs questioning his tactics. Someone even went through the trouble of handing out hundreds of baby pacifiers as a means of mocking the Pittsburgh Penguins' captain, who has a reputation for perceived whining to referees.
But at the end of a tense afternoon that featured 10 roughing penalties, it was Crosby who left Verizon Center snickering.
Crosby scored the game's first goal, set up another with a smooth pass and tallied in the shootout to lift the Penguins to a 4-3 victory that extended Pittsburgh's winning streak and the Washington Capitals' slide.
The Penguins' win was their sixth in a row, improved their record to 8-1-1 under new coach Dan Bylsma and moved them into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals, meantime, have dropped four in a row (0-3-1) for the first time under Coach Bruce Boudreau and came up short in their bid to sweep the Penguins for the first time.
"I don't love it," Crosby said when asked about the inhospitable welcome he received. "But it doesn't change the way I do anything out there. I've played in some tough rinks before. Philly comes to mind as a tough building. But this one is gradually making its way up there."
Considering all of the buildup the Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin rivalry received before the game, it was fitting the extra point came down to those two players. Crosby beat José Theodore (19 saves), and Marc-Andre Fleury (29 saves) stopped Ovechkin with a stick save to end the game and clinch the Penguins' first 5-0-0 road trip.
"We play well, for sure," said Ovechkin, whose 47th goal 29 seconds into the third period started the Capitals' rally. "But they play better. They make good trades. We play in the third period. We didn't play well in the first and second. I hope it's a good side for us."
Boudreau and his players were heartened by the third-period comeback but disappointed after falling at home to yet another opponent behind them in the standings.
"Bruce talks about a graph, and the graph goes up and down throughout the year and it seems we've been down and we're coming out," said defenseman Mike Green, who had two assists. "I thought we played well in the third. We kind of took the first and second period to get going. But we're coming out of it."
Boudreau added: "I think this was an uplifting game for us -- by far the best of the last four."
While Crosby certainly heard it from the Washington fans, he quickly proved his worth to the Penguins early in a crisply contested first period that ended 1-1.
Only 4 minutes 29 seconds in, Crosby finished a two-on-one with newly acquired veteran wing Bill Guerin to put the Penguins ahead 1-0. Guerin, who also had a goal, put the pass through defenseman Jeff Schultz, who misplayed the odd-man rush while the other defenseman, Tom Poti, misread the play, stepped up and hung out Schultz and Theodore to fend for themselves.