MONTREAL – Sidney Crosby was held off the scoreboard for a second-straight game by the Montreal Canadiens in Tuesday's Game 3. That doesn't mean the Pittsburgh captain didn't have an impact on Pittsburgh's 2-0 win that hands put the Penguins up 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Crosby drew a penalty on defenseman Hal Gill late in the second period that set up Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal 76 seconds into the third period. On that goal, Crosby was in the low slot, screening Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak, who had stopped the first 17 shots he saw in the game. Crosby also won 13 of the 21 faceoffs he took and blocked a shot during 22 minutes and 17 seconds of action.
"I liked his game quite a bit both sides of the puck," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "He does not get an assist on the goal but it's his work in the offensive zone that draws the penalty. It's playoff hockey and it's tight. They're playing some good defense and they're keying on him.
"He was up to the task at both ends of the rink. I think he's pretty happy with the way he played, even though he didn't get a point.
Crosby was happy with his game, but he's not satisfied yet. After Tuesday night's game, he critiqued his play, talked about the brilliance of Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar in generating the game-winning goal and critiqued just how good Marc-Andre Fleury was in pitching a shutout against Montreal.
Q: You talked about the noise in this building this morning. Was it what you thought it would be and did it have an effect on you guys?
Crosby: I don't think that is something that affected the way we played. Early on, I think we were kind of more waiting for what they were going to do and how they were playing. We were expecting them to play with maybe a little stronger forecheck and maybe open things up a little bit. By that time, we got caught watching in the first and didn't start initiating until the second.
Q: What about Sergei Gonchar tonight as a leader on the power play?
Crosby: He's got patience and poise and all the things that make a great defenseman. He's the quarterback back there for us. He makes a lot of the plays happen and everything kind of goes through him. Whether he's getting a shot through or making those plays to set up other guys; when he is on, everyone is better for it. He made some great plays back there.
Q: Can you talk about the game Marc-Andre had? It always seems like he is one goal better than the other guy whether it is 5-4 or 1-0.
Crosby: That's a great trait for a goalie, no matter if it is 1-0 or 5-4 or when you have the lead. I think being on the road and the circumstances being the way they are, it's big for him to show up and be big in those crucial times -- and he's shown that time and time again. We are really lucky to have him and you know what, he made some big saves and we wouldn't have got a win without the way he played.
Q: Does it take a bit of a weight off this team's shoulders to win the first one in their barn and now really put it back in their court?
Crosby: It's good to get it. You don't want to sit on it or rest on the fact you are up 2-1. You just try to show up for the next one. But, it feels good to get that first one and now we have a great opportunity coming into the next one. I don't think we want to think about this one too much. We did some good things in the second and third and we want to continue that in the next one and see where that puts us.
Q: When you are struggling personally, do you try more to get back to some of the little things in the game to get going?
Crosby: It's playoff hockey. I'd be the first one to tell you I'd love to create a chance every shift, I'd love to score every game and set up guys. But sometimes the game doesn't dictate that as much as you would like or you don't get the bounces and you have to find other ways to be productive -- whether it's defensively, creating things for other guys or just being responsible. These are all things as a teammate and as a team that we are all responsible for. I don't accept the fact that I don't get chances. I'm going to try every shift. But, certainly, the other things that you do have to be that much more sharp in order to contribute and that's kind of your focus I think.
Q: Is it easier for this team to play patient hockey because of the experiences of last year?
Crosby: I don't know if last year has anything to do with it. There's just trust with our game and I think you build that during the regular season when you play teams and you see the result you get from playing the right way and you gain confidence that your teammates are going to do the right thing and help you out. That's just a trust thing within a team and hopefully something that builds as each game goes on.