Montreal scored three unconventional goals -- including a Brian Gionta bank shot off the skate of defenseman Kris Letang and past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the game-winner -- in fashioning an unlikely 3-2 win Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
This best-of-7 series is now tied at two games apiece as it heads back to Pittsburgh on Saturday for a pivotal Game 5.
Crosby had another relatively quiet night, although he did assist on a power-play goal by Chris Kunitz that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. However, Crosby did not score for the fifth straight game in these playoffs and has just three assists in the series against Montreal.
Thursday night, Crosby did manage a series-best 5 shots while playing 22:15 off ice time across 21 shifts.
Afterward, Crosby talked about the shocking turn of events that took place in the third period of Game 4, as well as his inability to score. At one point on a third-period power play, Crosby looked good to break his slump as he took a cross-ice pass and fired toward a vacant short side. But the pass was a little slow, and Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak had enough time to react and make the save on a play that was symbolic of the night both Crosby and the Penguins had on Thursday.
Q: You kind of dominated the first two periods and just couldn’t get enough separation there, huh?
Crosby: They hung around. If you look at it, that is probably the difference if you look at it. But you can always analyze different things when you lose. There’s not much difference or much margin for error. It’s a playoff game and both teams played hard and somebody has to win -- and it was them tonight.
Q: Was it a little deflating when the puck went off Letang’s skate and into the net?
Crosby: I don’t think we changed the way we played. Obviously, they get a big goal like that and they come harder and they are a little more confident, playing with energy and things like that. But I don’t think we moped around or felt sorry for ourselves. I thought we generated some real good chances after that. Whether it goes in off his skate or is a pretty pass; whatever the case is, they scored. You got to bounce back. We’ve all had to deal with that before -- tough goals or tough breaks. You just got to keep playing your game.
Q: Can you talk about playing against their trap game when they get the lead?
Crosby: I would say they play like that pretty consistently even without the lead. That’s what they try to do; they try to control the neutral zone and slow things down there. That’s a battle of how teams play. That’s not going to change. That is more their identity. They have got some quick forwards who try to capitalize on those turnovers through the neutral zone.
Q: You do so much more than score, but do you feel like you have to put one in sooner or later, presumably sooner rather than later?
Crosby: I think you always feel like that. Whether I have eight (goals) at this point and its 2-2 (in the series) or whether I have none. You try to make sure you are doing your part. I wouldn’t change anything. Honestly, I wouldn’t change what I am doing out there. All you try to do is try to do the right things and get the results.
Crosby: Yeah, I guess. I don’t really dwell on the ones you miss or put in. You try to treat every chance differently and make the most of it. Those things, those habits and everything you practice; that’s when those things come into the game. You got to trust your skill and trust what you do. You know what? He made the save and that happens. Like I said, you can’t really dwell on it.
Q: Did Jordan Staal give you even more than you expected?
Crosby: Yeah. I’m sure he probably wanted to ease his way into a little bit, but it looked like he felt pretty good. I didn’t see at any point that he felt like he couldn’t keep going or needed to take a shift off. It seemed like every shift he was right there and his legs were there. That’s a really good sign for us.