VANCOUVER -- Sidney Crosby looked like his mother just told him he didn't have to eat his vegetables anymore. The smile on his face went from cheek to cheek, and his eyes were lit up like a Christmas tree.
Crosby loves competition. He feeds off it, and thrives when the pressure is turned up, when the spotlight shines on his shoulders.
He'll be front and center for the hockey world Wednesday when Canada takes on Russia in the quarterfinals, when he goes head-to-head with Alex Ovechkin in a one-off, win-or-go home game.
After scoring a goal and finishing with five shots and a plus-2 rating in Tuesday's 8-2 rout of Germany, Crosby stopped to chat with NHL.com before he could even wipe his sweaty face with a towel. Here's what he had to say:
NHL.com: You know the story now, the rivalry and all of that, does it get ratcheted up a little more on the international stage?
Crosby: "Well, yeah, but I think at any point when you're in the quarterfinals or whatever it is you expect a big game anyway. This is the way it is, the scenario we face. We know we're going to have to beat good teams if we're going to get to where we want to be, and this is the next step here."
NHL.com: This is a scenario you face here with Ovi, too. You have to talk about it a lot during the season because every time you play it's a story, but does it become bigger now because elimination is on the line?
Crosby: "Yeah, but you know what, I'm not worried about me and him to be honest with you. We have a great team and we're rivals; this is Canada-Russia. Let's face it, I have said it coming into the tournament and when Pittsburgh plays Washington, we want to win and if you ask him the same thing, he'll say they want to win, too. We need to be at our best, and we want to be at our best. Tomorrow is one of those times."
NHL.com: What do you remember from that '05 gold-medal game in the World Juniors, the last timer you played Ovi on the international stage?
Crosby: "It was a game that was one for us, I remember. The year before we lost in the final, so that was a bounce back year for us and a dream come true for Team Canada. We won a World Juniors gold medal. That's nice to think about, but we've got a game here that's more important now at this point."
NHL.com: Did Canada find its legs today and did you find a line today?
Crosby: "I was never worried about finding a line. For us, we wanted to find ways to keep getting better and we did that today. Last game we did a lot of really good things and today we built off of that. We all played well today, and you know what, it might not be such a terrible thing that we played today because we want to carry that momentum into tomorrow."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org