PITTSBURGH (AP) -Sidney Crosby is more of a playmaker than an exceptional goal scorer, but he was exactly that in the one game the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn't afford to lose - and didn't.
Crosby, already a leader who looks and plays far beyond his 20 years, kept promising after the Penguins were dominated in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit that the hockey world had yet to see the best of Pittsburgh.
The best of the Penguins, of course, is Sidney Crosby himself, and the kid who wouldn't quit has personally lifted the Penguins back into a finals that was beginning to look lost. His play in Wednesday's 3-2 victory also gave his team what it most needed.
Crosby not only scored the critical first goal that Pittsburgh couldn't get in Detroit, he got the second one, too. It was an uncharacteristic goal-scoring performance for a player who can take over a game but not often solely with his stick. He had scored a goal in only six of his previous 25 games.
But that was a game so important, so critical for the Penguins - they knew a 3-0 series deficit was a near-certain lost cause - that Crosby came out playing like he would personally ensure Pittsburgh wouldn't lose. His teammates followed.
"He proved why - in our minds - he's the best player in the league," teammate Ryan Whitney said.
Crosby, the 2006-07 scoring champion and MVP at age 19, was calmly reassuring after the debacles in Games 1 and 2 that the Penguins hadn't given up on themselves or the series and returning home to Mellon Arena was all they needed.
Actually, all they needed was Sidney Crosby to be Sidney Crosby. It was a man-sized performance by a player still known, despite his scraggly playoff beard, as Sid the Kid.