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Five-year anniversary of first Crosby-Ovechkin game

by Adam Kimelman
One of the best rivalries in the NHL surrounds two of the League's marquee players, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. It's a major event any time the two players come together on the ice, and never will that battle take more of the spotlight than at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

However, that rivalry got its start five years ago today.

On Nov. 22, 2005, Ovechkin and Crosby met on the ice as NHL stars-in-waiting for the first time, and neither disappointed.

Crosby scored the third goal in the Pens' four-goal first-period outburst. Ziggy Palffy backhanded a pass off the right wall to Crosby, who kicked it onto his stick at in one stride was at full speed. He split a pair of Capitals defenders, deked goalie Olaf Kolzig out of position and roofed a backhander.

"I just saw a little hole between the two (defensemen) and I tried to hit it hard and break through and always try to make a move there," Crosby said that night.

Later in the period, Crosby showcased more of his incredible skills. He escaped a check along the wall on the left side in the Washington zone and carried the puck toward the end line. At the edge of the left circle, he jammed on the brakes did a full 360-degree turn, and as Caps defenseman Jamie Heward skated right past him, Crosby sent a backhand pass right onto Palffy's tape for an easy goal.

"He can be like Mario (Lemieux)," Palffy told reporters. "Sometimes he's hard to read, you don't know what's going to happen. He's very fun to play with."

Ovechkin had his own magic moment. In the third period, he out-raced Steve Poapst to a puck along the left wall in the Pittsburgh end and shrugged off Poapst's hit to find Matt Pettinger alone in front of the Penguins' goal for a score.

Crosby finished with a goal and an assist in 19:16 of ice time in the Penguins' 5-4 victory. Ovechkin had an assist and four shots in 15:25 of action, including a pair of 2-on-1 chances that were stopped by Penguins goalie Sebastien Caron.

"I thought I scored two goals, but I didn't score," said Ovechkin, who twice began to celebrate as if he did. "I must score if I have a great chance to score. I'm disappointed because we lost this game and the first period was terrible."

We've seen some astounding moments from Crosby and Ovechkin since then, for sure, but every rivalry has to start somewhere, and this one started here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at
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