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NHL Stadium Series

Sidney Crosby has special night at Heinz Field

Penguins captain scores League-leading 34th goal in outdoor win against Flyers

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby knew Saturday was special.

Not because he scored a goal, something he's done in three straight games and four of his past five. Not because he had two golden chances to score again, because that's been a common occurrence this season.

The Penguins' 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series was special for Crosby because it came in a snowy Heinz Field, the same stadium where he took a hit against the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.that led to concussion problems.

"I've played in a few of these and (scoring a goal) hasn't happened," said Crosby, who gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 11:18 of the first period with his League-leading 34th goal. "So to be able to do it here, where (I) probably didn't have great memories of playing here, I think it was special at any point to be able to play outside and score, but especially here."

When forward Jake Guentzel feathered a pass from the slot onto Crosby's stick, a murmur ran through the sellout crowd that turned into a crescendo when his wrist shot hit the back of Philadelphia's net. That experience of playing in front of more than 67,000 fans also added to Crosby's big night. It was his first non-shootout goal in four outdoor games.

"You're a little bit far away, but I think you try to soak it up as much as you can and enjoy it," Crosby said. "Like I said, I've played in a few (outdoor games) and it hasn't worked out, so I think when you finally get (a goal), you try to soak it in."

When asked on Friday if his focus was on simply getting through this outdoor game, Crosby laughed but admitted the concussion he sustained in 2011 has crossed his mind, and he wanted to leave Heinz Field healthy.

Video: PHI@PIT: Crosby buries Guentzel's slick dish

On Friday, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby's experience at Heinz Field "is what it is," and after the game said he still felt that way, but also understood the importance of Crosby scoring the opening goal in this particular place.

"We were thrilled for him," Sullivan said. "Obviously, I'm sure the experience of coming back here probably brought back some memories that he probably would like to forget," Sullivan said. "So, to have a night like tonight and have an opportunity to play in such an exciting venue and start the game off the way he did and score a goal for us, I'm sure probably helped him just put that experience behind him and just move forward.

"I thought he had a solid game. I thought he played really well. His line was good all night long and obviously he scores a huge goal for us."

And Sullivan added Crosby's quality night wasn't restricted to his first-period goal.

With the Penguins leading 2-1, Crosby thought he scored again when his shot went inside the right post with 51 seconds left in the second period. He had knocked the net off its moorings 19 seconds earlier, however, and the goal was waved off, which led Crosby to whack his stick against the end boards.

Video: PHI@PIT: Crosby talks about his goal, Stadium Series

Crosby came close again at 7:38 of the third, when he deflected a pass from forward Chris Kunitz off the left post and on top of the net.

"It's fun to have those opportunities," Crosby said. "To be able to do it at home, to have friends and family here and take in the whole experience with all the guys, I think it's exciting and those are things you're fortunate to be a part of. So, I think we just all try to enjoy it and at the end of the day, when you're able to win these ones, it's always a little bit better."

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