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Crosby sets up OT winner in Penguins' victory

Friday, 12.28.2007 / 12:22 AM / Game of the Night

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Sidney Crosby's Penguins are now 9-1 against Alex Ovechkin's Capitals in 10 career meetings between the phenoms.
Sidney Crosby’s assist trumped Alex Ovechkin’s goal.

Ovechkin’s goal with 1:34 left in the second period put Washington ahead 3-2, but Pittsburgh’s Darryl Sydor tied the game with 2:16 left in regulation and Crosby set up Sergei Gonchar’s overtime winner as the Penguins beat the Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night.

Crosby controlled the puck behind the net, carried it into the slot and faked a shot before whipping a pass to Gonchar in the right circle. The defenseman’s high slap shot beat Olaf Kolzig — and salvaged what had been a tough night for Gonchar, whose misplays had led to two Washington goals, including Ovechkin’s.

“'I had a couple of mistakes, and I didn't feel great about this one, but I scored a goal and I feel a lot better now,'' Gonchar said. ''Sid made a great pass. When he started skating toward the net, both defensemen are paying attention to him and not even looking at me. I had a wide-open net.''

Crosby finished with two assists, giving him 17 points in 10 career games against Ovechkin — nine of them Penguins victories.

Ovechkin, who has four goals and 10 points against Pittsburgh, played only about a minute in the third period before needing several stitches to repair a cut on his leg and didn't return. The injury is not serious, but his absence didn’t help.

"I thought we had total control over the last half of that game, until we took a penalty,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''It is a game we have to win.''

But they didn’t. Instead, Pittsburgh forced overtime when Sydor scored on a slap shot from the high slot with four seconds left on Shaone Morrisonn's roughing penalty. It was his first goal since March 2 for Tampa Bay against Columbus.

''They were trying to shut things down, but we got a big goal there from Syd to keep us in it,'' Crosby said. ''Every game isn't going to have three solid periods and a perfect ending. This is what you have to do sometimes — find ways to win when you're not playing your best.''

Ovechkin, who hasn't gone consecutive games without a goal since Nov. 5-6, scored his 26th goal of the season off Nicklas Backstrom's pass after Gonchar couldn't control goalie Ty Conklin's pass behind the net, breaking a 2-2 tie.

Gonchar also had a hand in the Capitals’ first goal. Conklin tried to clear the puck along the goal line to Gonchar, but Boyd Gordon intercepted and fed Donald Brashear, who scored at 15:24, tying the game at 1-1.

Jeff Taffe and Colby Armstrong sandwiched first-period goals around Brashear’s second of the season. Armstrong made it 2-1 at 17:53 with a backhander from along the goal line that was intended as a pass for Evgeni Malkin but deflected off Milan Jurcina's stick and past goalie Brent Johnson.

Johnson sprained his left knee on the play and had to be helped off the ice. He’ll miss at least a week.

The Caps tied the game at 5:23 of the second period when Backstrom faked a shot before dropping a pass to Brian Pothier for a one-timer from the top of the right circle.

But Pothier wasn’t happy with the way his team played after taking the lead.

"I think the whole third period ... we just weren't ourselves," Pothier said. "We didn't have enough energy, we were turning the puck over. ... We ended up taking a penalty because they're flying and we're not."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic