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Crosby keeping team-first mindset

Pittsburgh captain says focus is beating Washington, not Ovechkin

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby said Monday he isn't focused on defeating Alex Ovechkin. He just wants to help the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Washington Capitals.

Seven years removed from their previous matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Crosby and Ovechkin will meet for a second time in the Eastern Conference Second Round. 

"I think, as a player, I'm worried about making sure that you play your best and we do everything we can to move on," Crosby said. "I think the other stuff and the storylines is up to everyone else to kind of do that. But as a player, you just focus on trying to win."

Crosby and Ovechkin have been compared since entering the League in 2005-06. 

Each has won the Hart, Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies. Crosby arguably has been the most consistent performer in the League with 938 points in 707 regular-season games. Ovechkin has been its most electric shooter with 525 goals in 839 games.

Video: 2009 Round 2, Gm2: Ovechkin, Crosby double hat-tricks

Crosby often is seen as the prototypical all-around player while Ovechkin is the quintessential goal scorer.

"I think that I definitely don't have his shot," Crosby said. "I don't score the way he does, so I'm not going to pretend that I do. It's pretty amazing what he's been able to do over the years and the way he scores, and at the rate he scores at."

The rivalry reached its peak in 2009, when Pittsburgh and Washington battled through seven games in the second round of the playoffs. 

Crosby and Ovechkin each had a hat trick in the Capitals' 4-3 win that gave them a 2-0 series lead.

"[Game 2] was just kind of a rollercoaster. I remember that game," Crosby said. "It felt like every time we scored they had an answer. And I think that for two guys to get hat tricks in the same game in the playoffs doesn't happen too often. So it was kind of unique that way."

In Game 7 in Washington, Crosby had two goals and an assist in a 6-2 Penguins win. 

Ovechkin had eight goals and 14 points in the series; Crosby had eight goals and 13 points. 

The Penguins went on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm1: Crosby goes top-shelf to beat Raanta

"Game 7, obviously, that's one that was a big one in that run," Crosby said. "We were able to pull it out there on the road. It's the past. It's been a while now, but it was definitely a great memory."

Crosby said he's focused on the present, but his teammates think his intensity elevates when facing Ovechkin. 

"Sid's a hyper-competitive guy that wants to go out there and be able to put the other team behind him at all times," forward Chris Kunitz said. "You see [Ovechkin], he's finishing checks and he's taking pucks to the net. He's a very competitive guy. … Everybody wants to be the best when you're out there."

Forward Eric Fehr spent nine of his first 10 seasons in Washington before signing with Pittsburgh in July 2015.

"I'm not going to lie; I think both players get up for the games," Fehr said. "I think a lot of it is fan-driven and media-driven, but it's hard to argue when you see how hard they play against each other and into it the fans get for those games. So it's exciting to watch and it's going to be a good series."

Crosby agreed with Fehr, but said his only concern is helping the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference Final.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm2: Ovechkin rips a one-timer by Mason

"I think it brings out the best in both of us," Crosby said. "I think in the past that's been the case and I think there's a lot made of it. But at the same time we want to be at our best for our respective teams and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

"I think it is the way it is. There's going to be questions about it. There's going to be attention surrounding it. But I think that what I do or how I approach it doesn't change. … It doesn't feel any different. It feels very much the same as it did then and I think we'll both handle it. But our focus is on winning."

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