Though he's the youngest scoring champion in NHL history, Sidney Crosby says the spotlight isn't important to him. Still, that focus only is going to get brighter as he steps on the ice for his first home playoff game.
Crosby leads the Pittsburgh Penguins into their first postseason action at Mellon Arena since 2001, as they take on the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
After scoring a late power-play goal during a 6-3 loss in Game 1 Wednesday night, Crosby beat Ray Emery with 8:16 to play to lift the Penguins to a 4-3 win on Saturday to tie the series 1-1.
"The spotlight is not important to me," Crosby said after Pittsburgh erased a pair of one-goal deficits en route to snapping a four-game losing streak in postseason play. "You work hard all year, and even before that, you work hard your whole life to get in the NHL and then to get in the playoffs.
"Where the spotlight is, that's not really a concern for me. I just want to win."
The 19-year-old superstar had 36 goals and 84 assists to lead the league with 120 points in the regular season, eclipsing Wayne Gretzky's record as the youngest Art Ross Trophy winner. In 39 home games this season, Crosby finished with 19 goals and 45 assists. He will be looking to end the Pens' long postseason scoreless drought there.
Pittsburgh enters this contest after having been shut out at Mellon Arena by New Jersey in Games 3 and 4 of the 2001 Eastern Conference finals.
With Saturday's victory in Ottawa, though, the Penguins head home feeling better about their chances not just to score, but advance.
"We wanted to steal one game," said rookie Jordan Staal, who also scored his second goal of the series Saturday to tie the score at 3 midway through the third period. "This is really good. It's going to help our confidence."
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray bristled when asked about Pittsburgh's new-found confidence.
"They've won one game and didn't touch the puck for two periods," he said.
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson each had a goal and assist in the second period for Ottawa, and Chris Kelly added his second goal of the series early in the third to give the Senators a short-lived 3-2 lead. Ottawa also fell to 0-7 all-time when trying to go up 2-0 in a playoff series.
"We've bounced back in other series being tied 1-1," Senators forward Mike Fisher said. "We had our chances and just came up a bit short. We know we can be better."
The Senators could start by addressing a power-play unit that was 1-for-9 Saturday while Pittsburgh's was 2-for-3, causing Murray to say "our power play wasn't very good - understatement."
Alfredsson said there's no need to panic.
"It's a big part, but I don't think it's the difference," he said. "You always want to score on the power play, but at least we had our chances."
Dany Heatley assisted on Alfredsson's tally, continuing a lengthy point streak that has carried over from the regular season.
In his last 10 games, Heatley has nine goals - including three game-winners - and six assists. A two-time 50-goal scorer, Heatley also has five goals and two assists during a six-game point streak versus the Penguins.
After giving up seven goals at home over the first two games, Emery may happy to play on the road, where he is 4-0-2 with a 2.11 GAA in his last six games. One of those defeats, however, was a 4-3 shootout loss to the Penguins on March 18.
Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.