The Pittsburgh Penguins’ five Olympic competitors are looking especially sharp going into the upcoming 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver as each player contributed significantly to the point earned in the team’s game against the Nashville Predators on Sunday afternoon.
After going 1-0-2 in the stretch before the Olympic games, which puts the team only one point behind the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division standings, the players are ready to say goodbye to the Steel City and represent their countries in the two-week tournament.
“I’m excited to get there and to see what it is like,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”Sidney Crosby
, Team Canada’s alternate captain, notched the first goal of the game and his 42nd of the season at 14:43 of the first period after Team Russia’s Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin
got the puck to him at the near circle. The Penguins captain then one-timed the puck past the glove of the Predators Dan Ellis.
With the thought of the Olympics in the back of his mind all season, Crosby said that he has been anticipating his arrival in Vancouver for a long time.
It’s been talked about a lot, so it’ll be nice just to get there and get with the team and practice. I’m looking forward to it. For the rest of the guys here, it will be a good time for us to rest up and get energized and be ready when we get back here. - Sidney Crosby
“It’s been talked about a lot, so it’ll be nice just to get there and get with the team and practice,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. For the rest of the guys here, it will be a good time for us to rest up and get energized and be ready when we get back here.”
Malkin’s assist on Crosby’s goal extended his point streak to 13 games.
“Guys want to make sure that they’re playing strong at the right times, and I don’t think it’s any different than any Olympic athlete,” Crosby added. “They want to be at their best going into the Olympics, and I’m sure it’s the same for all of the guys here.”
Team USA’s Brooks Orpik
scored the third goal of the game and his first of the season in the third period after Kris Letang
and Crosby set up the defenseman for a one-timer past Ellis. The goal was his first in 112 games.
“It was weird,” Orpik said of his goal. “It was along the ice. I thought it was going to hit the side of the net. He turned his stick over for whatever reason and deflected it up. I’ll take them whatever way I can get them.”
“He doesn’t have to put one in these next couple of weeks, but he made a nice play,” Crosby joked. “That’s a certain play we try off the faceoff, and it’s good to see them work, especially to see Orps get one. It was fun to see that.”
Fleury, Team Canada’s back-up goaltender, also made countless prominent saves throughout the game, including a one-timer shot by the Predators David Legwand in the second period where Fleury was forced to split his legs to make the save.
Fleury made a total of 26 saves against the Predators with four in the first period, 15 in the second and seven in the third.
Although the teammates will be playing against each other in the Olympics, they recognize that the competitive nature is just part of the game and realize that they will return to Pittsburgh with many fun stories for the rest of the team.
“You don’t really think about it too much,” Orpik said. “I have played against Sid and Geno in World Championships before. I think if anything, it is something fun. It’s a fun rivalry with those guys. They are all competitive. At the end of the day, I don’t think our relationship changes much.”