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Crosby, Pens upbeat after Game 1 loss

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com
WASHINGTON -- One part of Pittsburgh's Game 1 loss to the hometown Capitals on Saturday went according to plan for Sidney Crosby. He got the Penguins on the board and D.C. fans off the decibel meter.

"You want to start, especially on the road, you want to get that first one," said Crosby after practice Sunday at the Verizon Center, site of Game 3 Monday night (7 p.m., Versus, CBC, RDS). "Want to make sure we do that every game, especially on the road."

Sid the Kid's goal quieted the Red Wave crowd, at least early on. Crosby's teammates reacted by holding Alex Ovechkin and his high-flying Washington teammates to one shot during the first 10 minutes of the game while they peppered Simeon Varlamov with more than a half-dozen shots of their own. Crosby said he was ready for the series opener, no matter how many media members wanted to make this Sid vs. Ovie rather than Pens vs. Caps.

"He always has great jump in his step," defenseman Mark Eaton told NHL.com. "As competitive as he is, every night he wants to be the best player on the ice. I don't think it matters who he's playing against. That's his mentality against everybody, be the best player on the ice and make things happen."

"I think he's been jumping since the beginning of the playoffs," added forward Maxime Talbot. "He wants to be the best every series, every game, every period -- he wants to make a difference. He was great out there, and he was great against Philly, too. He just wants to win."

Crosby said Washington, Philly, it's all postseason hockey, even if he admits to not growing a playoffs beard with much success.

"I felt like I did first game against Philly," Crosby said . "That's really the way it is. It's easy to get caught up in that, but as a player your goal doesn't change. You want to win and you want to do whatever it takes to win no matter who you're playing against or what the storyline is. I didn't feel any different. I knew it was a road game coming into an energized building against a team that plays really well here and I wanted to make sure I was ready to play. I can honestly say I wasn't thinking about anything else."

If he could get that first one on the power play it would be even better. The Penguins went 0-for-5 in Game 1 against the Capitals, putting them at 0-for-17 in their last four games, dating back to Game 4 of the first round against Philadelphia. For the playoffs, the Pens ranked 13th of 16 teams at 10.8 percent.

Against the Caps on Saturday, the Pens had just six shots in their five chances, and Crosby didn't have any. He is not reaching for any panic buttons.

"There were a couple (of power plays) last night that we did a good job on, and a few that we didn't," said Crosby. "It's just a matter of not wasting any. There are going to be times where you do a great job and don't score. It doesn't mean you're doing something wrong, it's just that the puck doesn't go in. When you struggle a bit it's easy to force things and change things. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. You do the right things and it doesn't work. We just have to stick with what works and trust that we'll get a break."

Crosby said the key is staying with the game plan on the power play and not getting frustrated.

"Sometimes you force things, and when you struggle a bit you get away from what works," said Crosby. "That's the whole challenge, of making sure you stick (with it)."

Despite the disappointment that comes with the loss, the players said they felt pretty good about themselves. That was evident in practice, as players were laughing and joking, especially during the end-of-practice shootout contest, which on Sunday featured Evgeni Malkin shooting pucks at players as they skated past him, and Matt Cooke lying down and trying to trip guys as they went by.

Capitals/Penguins Playoff Gear Penguins Gear Capitals Gear "We're one inch away from being up 3-2," said Talbot. "I think the team is real confident here. You can tell from the atmosphere in the room -- no one's down. If we play that type of hockey for seven games, we'll be OK."

"There are times when you lose and feel like you have to make huge adjustments," said Crosby. "That's not the case last game. We felt like we did some really good things. Only got away from our game a little bit in the second period, we felt. Other than that we want to make sure our power play is better. But for the most part I think we did a lot of good things."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.

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