PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins got off to the start they wanted in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, handing upstart Montreal a 6-3 defeat at Mellon Arena in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series.
Despite missing more than five minutes of game action while being treated after suffering a cut on his chin, Crosby was able to manage a pair of assists, setting up two of Pittsburgh's four power-play goals.
Pittsburgh went 4-for-4 on the power play and used crisp puck movement, patient possession and a willingness to change the angle of attack to get the Montreal PK out of its rhythm and force goalie Jaroslav Halak -- the toast of the first round -- face far more telling shots than he did against Washington in the conference quarterfinals.
After Game 1, Crosby talked about Pittsburgh's plan against the red-hot Halak, who was chased in the third period after stopping just 15 of the 20 shots he faced. He also talked about his own minor injury and an injury to teammate Jordan Staal that could be far more serious (Staal left the game in the second period favoring his right leg and did not return).
Q: Talk about the night the power play had for you guys?
Crosby: We didn't do anything special. We made plays and capitalized on the chances we had. That's what it came down to. I think we gave ourselves a good chance of doing that though. We entered the puck well; we controlled it well there and shot it when we had opportunities to shoot. All the things that we need to have success. They are not always going to go in like that, you are not always going to go 4-for-4 if you execute, but we did the right things there.
Q: How tough is it to overcome the injury to Jordan Staal?
Crosby: He's a big part of our team. It's not something that is easy to deal with, but that is what you face. There's no sense feeling sorry for ourselves and thinking about it. There's nothing we can do. It's out of our control. If anything, somebody gets an opportunity to play some key minutes and fill his role. It's not an easy one to fill but a great challenge for anybody that is going to fill his spot.
Q: He's a guy that hasn't missed a shift, never mind a game. How surprising was it to see him go off?
Crosby: Any time a guy misses in the playoffs ; there is a good reason why. You never like to see anybody go off, period. It's scary and you are always disappointed to see that, but that is the game we play and those are the things we work through.
Question: You must have pretty good doctors? You weren't gone all that long.
Crosby: Yeah. We had two TV timeouts and I think I was gone maybe five minutes on the clock. Give some credit to those guys, they were doing a good job. I think there were two of them.
Question: How many stitches?
Crosby: I have no idea.
Question: Were you trying to use their over-aggressiveness in blocking shots -- especially going down to block shots -- to your advantage tonight?
Crosby: No. I think we were just trying to shot the puck and find holes. That's what you got to do. Everyone knows they are committed to doing that, and that's a strength of their team. Sometimes they are going to get big blocks and take away chances. Other times, we are going to find a way to get the puck through and hopefully it goes in. That's what it comes down to. You just try your best to make your shots count and get them through and hope that you get that opportunity or second ones off of it.