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Greatest Moments

Lemieux scoring goals five ways in same game amazes Crosby

Historic single-game performance among final four for Greatest NHL Moment; voting runs through Nov. 21

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby laughed when asked if he could imagine replicating Mario Lemieux's five goals scored five different ways on Dec. 31, 1988.

"I haven't even got four goals in a game," Crosby said, "so I haven't even been remotely close to it."

 

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Lemieux's feat of scoring at even strength, on a power play, shorthanded, on a penalty shot and into an empty net against the New Jersey Devils advanced to the final four of the Greatest NHL Moments Presented by Coors Light and Pepsi Zero Sugar after four weeks of fan voting. It will face Wayne Gretzky scoring his 50th goal in his 39th game of the 1981-82 season on Dec. 30, 1981, in one semifinal.

Video: Greatest NHL Moments: Lemieux vs. Gretzky

In the other semifinal, Bobby Orr's Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal on May 15, 1970, is matched against Teemu Selanne breaking the rookie goal-scoring record with a hat trick on March 2, 1993, on the way to a 76-goal season. Semifinal voting ends Tuesday at midnight.

Crosby, who has 10 NHL hat tricks, agrees with the fan vote thus far. Looking back on Lemieux's moment in particular, he repeatedly said he doesn't think it will ever be seen again.

"I remember one time, I think I had a chance for a hat trick. So, it would have been an empty-netter shorthanded, so I basically would've got two in one," Crosby said. "But to have it five different ways? You might chalk up a couple, but you're not going to get all five. I'm sure guys have been somewhat close.

"To score five is one thing, but to have it five different ways? I'm not sure. It would be great, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do that."

The circumstances are against Crosby, in particular.

He rarely kills penalties. When he does, he usually joins a kill late to create some offensive momentum as his teammate leaves the penalty box.

But that's not why Crosby thinks he'll never match Lemieux. He wanted to make that abundantly clear.

Crosby simply can't see himself scoring five goals in a game, never mind scoring five different ways. He'd like to, but thinks it is highly improbable.

"You look at the goals per game [in the modern NHL compared with 1988]," Crosby said. "It's not looking like it can happen. If it does, it's a pretty incredible feat."

Video: 1988: Mario Lemieux scores five different ways

Crosby, born Aug. 7, 1987, was obviously too young to have seen Lemieux score those five goals live. However, he can recall being told about it for the first time.

"I remember hearing about it and seeing the highlights from that game," Crosby said. "I think the immediate thing you think of is 'How do you even do that? Like, how does that even happen?' And then, 'I don't think that's ever going to happen again.'

"I think that's a one-time deal. It was pretty incredible that he was able to do that and I don't think you'll see that happen again in hockey."

Crosby also can't see Lemieux ever going out of his way to discuss that moment.

"For the most part, he's pretty humble. He didn't really bring that stuff up," Crosby said. "I'm sure it's one of the special things he's done over his career when he thinks back. I know that's something that's often talked about as far as all the things he achieved. That one kind of stands out a lot."

If it were up to him, Crosby would have Lemieux advance to the final. He also knows what he would choose as the other finalist.

"I'd put his five goals five different ways and then Bobby Orr's goal," Crosby said. "That's just such an iconic moment. That picture, if you ask anyone in hockey they know exactly what that is. It's just pretty incredible to capture that in a picture and to win the Cup on that goal. It's a pretty special moment.

"I'd put those two, I'd say, ahead of anything. There are a lot of great moments to pick from. Those are two pretty cool ones that stick out in my mind."

To vote on the semifinal matchups, fans can visit NHL.com/GreatestMoments. They can join the conversation using the hashtag #NHLGreatestMoments. The fans' choice for the Greatest NHL Moment will be announced during the 2017 Scotiabank NHL100 Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Dec. 16 (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, NHL.TV).

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