Before playing his first NHL game in Winnipeg on Friday night, Sidney Crosby had fond memories of playing in the hockey-crazed city as an 18-year-old kid with Team Canada for exhibition games prior to the 2005 World Junior Championship.
|Crosby scored twice in his first NHL game in Winnipeg (Getty Images) |
“I have great memories of playing here from those exhibition games,” said Crosby before the game, who was sidelined for both visits to Winnipeg last year due to injury. “I’ve heard all about the atmosphere with the Jets here. I remember it pretty fondly from Team Canada. So I’m excited for the game.”
The atmosphere in the MTS Centre certainly wasn’t as welcoming seven years later, as Jets fans showered boos on the now 25-year-old Penguins superstar every time he touched the puck in Friday’s contest against the Jets.
Despite that, Crosby had quite a debut in the capital of Manitoba, scoring both Penguins goals and putting forth an overall strong effort in a 4-2 loss to the Jets.
"It’s a fun place to play," Crosby said after the game. "Loud crowd. The game was pretty high tempo and back-and-forth. These are the ones that are enjoyable to play in. Much better when you win. But I thought it was an exciting atmosphere."
Crosby’s second goal was his 614th career point, moving him past Hall of Famer Ron Francis into sole possession of fourth place on the Penguins all-time points list.
Crosby now has a five-game point streak against the Jets, collecting 16 points (8G-8A) in those games. In 23 career meetings against the Jets, Crosby has 15 goals, 26 assists and 41 points.
On the first goal, Crosby intercepted a clearing pass from Grant Clitsome (with Pascal Dupuis laying a big hit on the Jets defenseman) to get offensive zone time. When Winnipeg tried to clear, Kris Letang got the puck at the red line and rimmed it around the boards, keeping some tired Jets on the ice.
Chris Kunitz made a great play on the wall to stop the puck and get it to Crosby in the slot, who got a forehand shot short side past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec for the score.
On the second goal, Matt Niskanen got the play started when he made a nice, simple play to clear it up and off the boards to Crosby, who kicked it to himself and entered the zone. He cut to the center past Mark Stuart and took the puck to his backhand, whipping a shot through Pavelec’s legs.