Head coach Dan Bylsma was asked, yet again, about the 13-game playoff goal-less drought of his captain Sidney Crosby two hours before the puck dropped to start Game 3 of the Penguins second-round series against the New York Rangers.
Bylsma’s response: “Eventually, you are going to see him get a goal. Eventually, you are going to see him break out, there is no question about that.”
Eventually turned out to be the 2:34 mark of the second period of the Penguins’ 2-0 victory at Madison Square Garden Monday night, a result that has Pittsburgh ahead 2-1 in the series.
The play developed in the Penguins zone. Crosby streaked up ice and called for the puck. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo threw a perfect outlet pass right onto Crosby’s blade.
“When a guy like that has space and has speed you want to get the puck to him as fast as possible,” Bortuzzo said. “When he’s hollering you get it to him. That’s what I did.”
Crosby took the puck at the Rangers blue line with an angle on defenseman Marc Staal. He skated into the circle with speed.
“I just wanted to make sure I got a good shot off,” Crosby said. “I wasn’t sure if (Staal) would get a good stick on me. I was just trying to make sure I got my head up and got a good shot.”
Crosby shot and the vulcanized rubber puck lasered through the legs of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
With one snap of the wrists the story that wouldn’t die was deceased.
“It’s nice not having to answer (media questions) about it, to be honest,” Crosby said. “It’s one game. In the playoffs you have to be able to turn the page quickly. It’s nice to finally score.”
Crosby raised his arms and screamed in celebration, something he couldn’t do for the past 13 postseason games – or since May 22, 2013.
“I’m pretty sure something jumped off his back as the puck went into the net,” Bylsma said.
Crosby may have finally scored a goal in Game 3, but the stage was really set in Game 2. Crosby had arguably his best game of the postseason, posting six shots and being a dominant force on the ice.
In the past two contests Crosby’s level of play dramatically improved from the first seven games of the postseason. Crosby believes it was a mental problem that he overcame.
“Sometimes when you’re not scoring you’re trying a little too hard,” Crosby reasoned. “You’re thinking too much about where you need to go instead of just playing. The last couple of games I told myself to go out there and play, compete and let things happen. More reacting than thinking.”
But throughout the drought, Crosby never lost confidence in his ability to score. He knew, as Bylsma also noted, it was only a matter of time before he converted his opportunities.
“You just believe that eventually they’re going to go in,” Crosby said. “I thought (Game 2) I had some really good chances. Sometimes when you’re getting all those chances you just have to trust that they’re going to go in. The most important thing is the chances and trusting they’re going to go in.”