CANONSBURG, Pa. -- Down 2-0 heading into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby talked about how his team had to play with desperation.
It paid off with a 3-2 overtime win Wednesday night. But just because they got a win in the series, Crosby said that desperation needs to remain.
"We did a good job last night but that's over now and it's look to Game 4," Crosby said following Thursday's optional practice at Southpointe Iceoplex. "We have to bring the same effort. We know they expect more of themselves, so we expect a tougher game here in Game 4."
One of the biggest plays in the Game 3 win was Crosby's offensive-zone faceoff win against David Steckel that led to Kris Letang's overtime goal. Crosby won only 13 of 31 draws in Game 3, including just three of 12 against Steckel, but just like in life, timing is everything.
After winning about 65 percent of his faceoffs in the first round against Philadelphia, Crosby hasn't been nearly as good in the first three games against Washington, winning just 35 of 80 draws (43.7 percent), including just 13 of 33 (39.3 percent) in the offensive zone.
Crosby's biggest nemeses have been Boyd Gordon and David Steckel. Crosby has won nine of 16 against Gordon, including seven of the last 11. Against the 6-foot-5, 222-pound Steckel, however, Crosby is just 8-for-34 (23.5 percent).
"Those guys that take a lot of key faceoffs, Steckel and Gordon," said Crosby. "They're strong, big guys. They've really just taken it upon themselves to take key faceoffs. One's a righty (Gordon), one's a lefty (Steckel), so they're always taking draws on their strong side. They're just put in a situation where they can probably win them typically because they're on their strong side. It's become a big job of theirs, faceoffs."
Crosby said he works on faceoffs every day in practice with assistant coach Tom Fitzgerald.
"We work on faceoffs almost every day," Crosby said. "We practice that every day and it's good to see it pay off. They still did a great job on faceoffs; I was just able to get a key win there."
Beyond the good vibes from the late faceoff win, Crosby said his team is getting more positive playing against Caps rookie sensation Simeon Varlamov. They scored three times on 42 shots in Game 3, and felt the chances were there for even more.
"We don't want to change a thing," Crosby said. "I think we've done a great job of getting a lot of pucks to the net. There're still a lot of rebounds that are laying there that we haven't been able to put in. Hopefully those go in and we'll get more goals. But we don't want to change a thing."
Despite being down in the series, Crosby feels his team has been the better one in the series, and will look to continue that in Game 4 on Friday.
"I feel like we've outchanced them over the three games," said Crosby. "It doesn't matter, we're still down 2-1, but the belief in what we need to do is there. We see some good results. Not in the first two games as far as wins are concerned, but chances and things like that. We're confident that if we play this way we give ourselves a good chance to win."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.