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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Crosby: Lack of execution dooms title-hungry Pens

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Sidney Crosby believed just like the rest of the Penguins.

Crosby thought his team was good enough to win the Stanley Cup. He liked the makeup, depth, composure of a team that he believed could make another long run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 13 | +/-: -3
"But at the end of the day you have to go out there and execute," Crosby said.

The Penguins didn't do execute well enough against the Philadelphia Flyers. As a result, they're going home early -- way earlier than most pundits expected -- after losing 5-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.

"There are no guarantees," Crosby said. "Everyone believed we had the team capable of doing that (winning the Stanley Cup), but that being said there's a lot of hockey to be played to do that. I don't think guys were caught looking too far ahead or caught up in the expectations. The expectations are there all year, they're high, guys understand that; but I think everyone does a great job of staying in the moment and worrying about the team ahead of us.

"Sometimes you don't always get to achieve the stuff you want to," he added. "There are a lot of other teams that want the same thing."

Crosby did a lot to help the Penguins' cause in the six-game series. He finished with eight points on three goals and five assists, but he was a minus-3 with no points and just three shots on goal in Game 6.

He got leveled just six seconds into the game by Flyers center Claude Giroux, who had a far bigger impact in Game 6 -- and the overall series -- than Crosby or anybody else on the Penguins. Giroux finished with a series-best 14 points and a plus-6 rating.

PENGUINS VS. FLYERS

Flyers top Penguins 5-1 to win series

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
The Flyers had dropped two straight games after taking a 3-0 series lead, but they closed the door on Pittsburgh in Game 6.
READ MORE ›

"It was much tighter the last couple of games and I probably didn't get as many chances as I would have liked, but that's playoff hockey sometimes," Crosby said of his Game 6 performance. "You've got to find a way to create. That would pretty much sum it up. I would have liked to get a little more going here these last couple of games."

The Penguins had no choice but to get things going after losing the first three games.

They blew a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and lost 4-3 in overtime. They coughed up a 3-1 lead in Game 2 and lost 8-5. They melted down in Game 3, losing 8-4 and had three players suspended for various illegal acts.

But, they won Game 4 in a rout, 10-3, and then showed they can beat the Flyers in a tight-checking game by winning Game 5 by a 3-2 score.

They were not nearly good enough, however, to win Game 6.

"We made it 3-1 there (in the second period) and it felt like we had some momentum, and they were able to get that fourth one," Crosby said. "They got a good start, but if you look at the past five games that didn't really mean a lot. We knew we had to keep battling and we did that, but it was too big of a lead.

"We pretty much had to play perfect hockey to get back in the series and did a pretty good job until (Sunday)."

It looked like Crosby was playing perfect hockey heading into the playoffs. He had 25 points in 14 games after missing more than three months with concussion symptoms and a neck injury.

"Just because you finished strong doesn't mean it's going to be perfect when you start," Crosby said. "We definitely made a lot of mistakes, but we didn't really get any bounces in that first game when they started to get back into it. I think you have to give yourself a chance to win in the playoffs because even when you do there is no guarantee you're going to win."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery