PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby went into the 2009-10 season with more of a shooter's mentality than he had previously in his career. The results were career-highs in goals (51) and shots (298).
But in Game 1 of the Penguins' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators, Crosby had just two shots, both of which came in the final 6:17 of Wednesday's game, a 5-4 loss. Game 2 is Friday (7 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
It's not the first time the Senators have frustrated Crosby -- he had just 3 assists in four games against them in the regular season -- but with the intensity of the games ratcheted up, it was a decisive victory for Ottawa's defensive tandem of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips.
"I think they just play good team defense, that's pretty much the key to any strong defense against anybody," Crosby said following Thursday's practice at Mellon Arena. "Playoff hockey is going to be tight whether you're playing Ottawa or anyone else. It's going to be tight, not a lot of chances. I don't see anything different."
Instead of being a goal-scorer, Crosby found better success as a playmaker, and he picked up assists on three of the Penguins' four goals in Wednesday's loss.
"If you watch the game, where would you thought I could have shot more?" Crosby asked. "That's the way it works. You got two guys on defense who are going to take away time and space and they don't want me to have the puck. That's something I have to deal with. But if they're doing that, then other guys are going to be open, and in most cases that's going to be the best option."
But the Penguins didn't get to this point this season by Crosby being solely a playmaker -- they were 22-8-3 when he scored a goal.
"By no means am I going to pass up any shots if they give me that space," Crosby said. "Hopefully, I'm going to make them pay for giving me that time and space. That's just hockey. You can't shoot the puck if you're getting two guys in your face. And if they're not there, make sure I go on net."
Crosby said turning into an Alex Ovechkin-like gunner isn't an option.
"I'm not going to change anything," he said. "To say I'm going to start shooting needlessly just to shoot, that's not smart. You have to trust your instincts. One game doesn't mean you have to re-invent the wheel."
The Penguins only had 21 shots in Game 1, and a lot of that was due to poor play through the neutral zone, and not finding the net when they did have time and space to get shots off, as they missed 14 other shots. Crosby, however, is the offensive key for the Penguins, and said improved play in the offensive end will lead to more chances not just for him, but for everyone.
"It's pretty hard to shoot if you don't get the puck in the offensive zone," Crosby said. "We've got to do a better job of that."
Not having played the Senators since Jan. 28, there was a lack of familiarity with just how the Senators were going to play against him. Now that he's got one game under his belt, Crosby said there are changes he can make to his game to hopefully find more open ice.
"There're always adjustments that go on," he said. "Are they going to play perfect? No. I'm going to get my chances. When I do, I have to make the most of them. Last night we didn't get in the offensive zone enough, and in turn that takes away those opportunities to get the open ice. It's a matter of working together to create that space. They're going to give me time and space at some point, and hopefully I'm going to make the most of it."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org