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Penguins' Crosby generates little vs. Rangers

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby didn't look like the NHL scoring champion.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was held scoreless through the final three games of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers. Pittsburgh scored one goal in each of the three losses, culminating with a 2-1 loss in Game 7 Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.

Crosby was not the only player who failed to produce during Pittsburgh's failure to close out the series after holding a 3-1 lead, but his lack of production left the most noticeable hole.

"It's just disappointing. Tonight was one of our better games," Crosby said. "We worked hard and generated some good chances. I think ultimately, the two we lost and this one hurt as a lot and we put ourselves in this position. But tonight, we worked hard and tried to generate a lot and unfortunately didn't find a way to win."

Forwards Chris Kunitz and James Neal, who finished second and third in goals on the Penguins respectively during the regular season, were also contained. But coach Dan Bylsma said the lack of scoring could not be placed on one player.

"Every time this time of year, it's always a storyline of who has a goal and who doesn't have a goal," Bylsma said. "You don't need one player to score a goal or 10 goals to win. Their team has players that didn't score goals and haven't scored goals. They got goals tonight and won the hockey game. You can look at the fact that we have players that didn't get a goal or goals, guys that you look to score a goal, but we didn't get enough to win.

"We could've gotten that from anywhere. We didn't get it and they did."

The Rangers nullified Crosby by closing on him with multiple bodies any time he received the puck.

"I think they just protected the net," Crosby said. "They boxed out well in front and had guys sit back a lot and really protected their blue line and forced us to dump it. But I think even with that, that's the playoffs and you have to find ways to generate."

The Columbus Blue Jackets also employed that strategy throughout the Eastern Conference First Round against Pittsburgh, but never completely shut Crosby down.

Crosby failed to score a goal in the first round, but earned at least one assist in five of the six games and finished the round with six points. He was not nearly as productive in the second round, scoring one goal and three points. He was held without a point five times.

He spent much of the final nine games alongside forwards Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz. Malkin, who also received criticism for a lack of production before his hat trick in Game 6 against Columbus, was one of Pittsburgh's most reliable players in the second round.

Malkin scored seven points and three goals in the series, but said the Rangers played a defensive scheme, combined with the play of New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, proved to be difficult to solve.

"It's the Rangers. They're a good team," Malkin said. "They show us great hockey. Every game, we play against a tough team and they were hard and they deserve to win. … We tried [to score goals]. I had a couple chances. Sid too. Lundqvist is just a tough player."

After another a fifth consecutive series loss to a lower-seed team, Crosby said he was disappointed in his performance because he was not able to help Pittsburgh advance to a second straight Eastern Conference Final.

"Obviously, I would've liked to score more and contribute more," Crosby said. "But it wasn't for lack of effort or competing or anything like that. I'd love to tear it up every series, but it's not always the case. It doesn't make it any easier, I'll tell you that.

"It's tough losing as it is, but when you're not able to contribute as much as you'd like, it's even tougher."

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