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Sidney Crosby savors hometown support

Team Canada captain gets 'pretty special' reception from Pittsburgh fans

par Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby's most memorable moment Wednesday came before he stepped on the ice.

That's saying something, because Crosby played rather well in Team Canada's 3-2 overtime win against Team Russia in a World Cup of Hockey 2016 pretournament game at Consol Energy Center.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain appreciated getting a win in front of a hometown crowd before heading to Toronto for the start of the tournament Saturday.

"It's nice," Crosby said. "It's been weird today, feeling like you're an away player, feeling like you're on the road. So, to get a reception like that, to be able to play here, playing for Team Canada here in Pittsburgh, it was pretty special."

Standing in the walkway leading from the Team Canada locker room that usually houses the Penguins, Crosby waited for his name to be called. He heard his teammates receive everything from polite applause to raucous jeers from the crowd.

When Crosby emerged from the runway, the fans rose to their feet. They clapped and cheered his last name.

The camera remained on Crosby, a relatively reserved player, for several seconds. It seemed he was fighting a smile before finally giving in, waving to the crowd and soaking up the environment.

Crosby then played a solid game, assisting on Patrice Bergeron's goal in the first period. After cutting into the offensive zone, Crosby slid a backhand pass through defenseman Dmitry Orlov to Bergeron, who swiftly flicked a backhand into the upper-left corner behind goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at 8:49.

Crosby didn't score, but he could have. All that stood between him and a game-winning power-play goal late in the third period was a quick glove save from Bobrovsky, who robbed his snap shot that was headed just inside the right post.

Crosby had another chance to win the game in overtime, but Bobrovsky made another impressive save before letting in a shot from Ryan Getzlaf on a breakaway at 3:29.

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin had a similar experience for Team Russia. Malkin and his teammates were introduced before Team Canada, allowing the center to soak up the first big cheer of the night followed by chants of his nickname, Geno.

Malkin helped Team Russia tie it 1-1 3:40 into the third period with the secondary assist on Alex Ovechkin's slap shot that beat Carey Price on a power play. Malkin was surprisingly matched up against Crosby often, leading to 10 faceoffs between the two, with each winning five.

"I don't know. Check the replay on a couple of them," Crosby said. "He was sideways on a couple of them. I know who he learned that from. He was really good there tonight. He was beating me a lot on his forehand, so I look at that and make sure I improve."

Malkin admitted his success against Crosby came from knowledge of his tendencies.

"I work against Sid in practice every day," Malkin said. "I know he is quick and has a strong stick. I know what he does. He's tough."

After winning two of three pretournament games, Crosby is ready to move on to Toronto for the start of the World Cup. That doesn't take away from the moment he had Wednesday, however.

"I know it's an exhibition game, but to have [Malkin] on the other side, Canada against Russia, that's a big rivalry," Crosby said. "To have the support that we had here and to have that sort of reception, I think we both appreciated it, we know you don't get opportunities like that a lot and we'll try to get ready for the tournament now."

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