-- Sidney Crosby
came out after the best Stanley Cup Playoffs game of his career in the worst mood of his life.
It's the epitome of a team-first mentality, and part of what makes Crosby special as a hockey player. The Penguins captain scored his first playoffs hat trick and the first word out of his mouth after the game was "disappointed."
"Disappointed we lost," said Crosby. "It's nice to score, but it's better to win."
More than any memorable move with the puck – and he had plenty of them here Monday – Crosby's competitiveness and will to win nearly carried the Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals
Crosby scored the game's first goal for the second straight game when he knocked in the rebound of a Sergei Gonchar
shot for a power-play goal 6:38 into the first period.
After the Caps tied it, Crosby put the Pens back ahead 2-1 when he sneaked away from Caps defenseman Mike Green
, corralled a bouncing puck and stuffed it in the net at 10:57 of the second.
And with the Pens down 4-2 in the last minute, he took four whacks at the puck in front of the net before finally batting his third rebound out of the air and past Caps goalie Simeon Varlamov at 19:27 to make it 4-3.
In Crosby's mind, however, all his effort went for naught. That's because the other transcendent superstar in the series, Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, also notched his first playoff hat trick -- and Ovie's three goals included the game-winning goal.
In an instant classic, no matter the sport, the two stars matched each other shift for shift, shot for shot and goal for goal.
"I'm sure its entertaining for people to watch," said Crosby. "If I were to look at it from a fan's point of view, obviously that would be the case. As a player you don't like seeing a guy on the other team get a hat trick, it's usually not a good sign. But at the same time, I realize that people are entertained by that.
"But at the end of the day, as a player, you want to win games."
He'll have another chance at that Wednesday, as the series shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 3. Game 4 also will be at Mellon Arena, on Friday.
Despite trailing 2-0 in the series, both games have been taut, one-goal affairs. A bounce of the puck either way and this series easily could be 2-0 for the Pens.
"From our point of view we want to make sure we fix a few things but we don't want to change our game a whole lot," said Crosby. "That's the way we want to play as far as forechecking, being physical. The power play still needs to get a little sharper. There's not a whole lot of difference between the two teams right now. It's one play here or there; it's a one-goal game both games. There's not a lot of room for error. We just have to make sure we get those big plays."
While Crosby cashed in on his fair share of big plays, he again was robbed in-close by Caps rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, who made the save of the playoffs to deny Crosby in Game 1.
"He's made some timely saves," said Crosby. "Still think we can do a better job of burying the puck and capitalizing on our chances. The difference is a few inches, but he battles. He competes. There's times where he's out of position but he finds a way to get a piece of his body on it. As a shooter you have to make sure you bear down. We have to really correct that quickly. There's times where he's really swimming in the crease and we've got some loose pucks and we have to put them in.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two hat-tricks -- same game -- opposing players
|Mark Messier (EDM)
||Edmonton 6 at Calgary 4
|Paul Reinhart (CGY)
|Al Iafrate (WSH)
||Islanders 6 at Capitals 4
|Ray Ferraro (NYI)
|Trevor Linden (VAN)
||Canucks 5 at Avalanche 4
|Joe Sakic (COL)
|Sidney Crosby (PIT)
||Penguins 3 at Capitals 4
|Alex Ovechkin (WSH)
Notable Players -- first playoff hat-trick