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Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid put on show

Penguins defeat Oilers in shootout; respective captains enjoy hype of head-to-head matchup

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Some hyped games fall well short of their billing.

When Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins played against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Friday, expectations were exceeded in so many ways.

Crosby had the most ice time of any Pittsburgh forward, 22:46, and scored in the shootout to help the Penguins to a 3-2 win.

McDavid had the most ice time of any player in the game, 26:53, scored a game-tying power-play goal in the third period, then again in the shootout after he missed an overtime breakaway.

Edmonton's new arena was buzzing with every move of the head-to-head game.

"It is different," McDavid, the Oilers captain, said about playing against Crosby. "To say it's a normal game would be lying. Obviously he's someone I've looked up to my whole life.

Video: PIT@EDM: Crosby stays patient, tallies in shootout

"To play against him is fun. It was probably to my advantage, it's easier for me to get up to play against him than it is for him to get up to play against me."

If McDavid felt it was just another game for Crosby, he was wrong.

"He's dangerous," Crosby said. "Plays that seem like nothing plays, he's able to create a chance. You try to contain him the best you can but with speed like that he's going to create things out there."

The Penguins captain was asked about McDavid's combination of speed and skill.

"There are guys who are pretty quick and can beat you wide but not necessarily stickhandle through you," Crosby said. "I think he's got that ability and he uses guys around him really well, being able to give and go and get some separation for himself.

"There's more to it than being a fast skater. There's a lot of fast skaters in the League but he thinks the game really well."

Video: PIT@EDM: McDavid converts with quick release in SO

In the shootout, Crosby fired a shot high past the blocker of Oilers goalie Cam Talbot for the first goal, and Phil Kessel followed with the deciding goal to help the Penguins improve to 42-16-8 and tie the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 92 points.

"I just kind of came down, at that point the ice is pretty chewed up and you're not going to try anything too fancy," Crosby said. "I tried to keep my head up and get a shot on net."

McDavid leads the NHL scoring race with 75 points (23 goals, 52 assists). He has five more points than Crosby, who is tied for fourth with 70 points, including a League-leading 34 goals.

"[McDavid] was a big, positive factor in our game, he was all over the rink," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He was a threat every time he was out there, in the circle, in the overtime, what else do you want me to say?

"So when he's playing like that, is the inclination to get him out there two out of every three shifts? Well, I'm looking at the stats sheet and it says he played 26 minutes as a forward. We can't play him any more than that."

McDavid was stopped by Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a partial breakaway early in the game.

Later in the first period, scrambling to sweep away an Evgeni Malkin shot that had dribbled through Talbot's equipment, McDavid tried to kick the puck to safety, only to have it bounce in off Talbot's leg pad.

Video: PIT@EDM: McDavid corrals rebound, slams home PPG

It put the Penguins ahead 2-0.

"It was a mistake on my part that cost our team, and we found a way to battle back," McDavid said. "I was just trying to get my stick in there and I kind of caught the edge of the net, and on a play like that you're kind of just panicking.

"You just throw a body part in front of it, I thought I'd get my leg there, it was just unfortunate that Talbot was coming back at the same time and I kind of banked it in off of him. So, kind of a funny play. We'll be seeing that for a while on the bloopers for sure."

Crosby, 29, said he's not surprised that McDavid, who's 20, and other young players are making their mark on the League at an early age.

Video: PIT@EDM: Kessel rings post with scorching SO winner

"I think guys like Connor are coming into the League and having a lot of success early," Crosby said. "They're getting a great opportunity to play, and deservedly so. You see some of the young guys that are having an impact in the League so I don't think they'll be put in those situations if they can't handle them. They've shown they can handle them. These guys are elite players for a reason and they're showing it."

Fleury, who made 40 saves plus two in the shootout for the victory, said he enjoyed the spectacle of being in a game with two of the League's marquee centers.

"Fun to watch," he said. "It's obviously two great players. Lot of skill. Lot of speed on both sides. But to me, Sid is the best. He's been the best for a long time. I think he does so many good things offensively, defensively. He's the complete player out there."

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