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Pens break tradition to break slump

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

During Sidney Crosby's rookie season in 2005-06, he used to walk down the tunnel and onto the ice second-to-last in front of Mario Lemieux.

After Lemieux announced his retirement over midway through the season, Crosby became the last player down the runway - until Evgeni Malkin joined the team for the 2006-07 campaign. What happened next is legendary in Penguins lore.

"I used to go out last, and then Geno came in," Crosby said. "I said, 'Do you usually go out last?' He goes, 'Yeah.' And I go, 'Oh.' I wasn't sure how to react (laughs). Like, do you want to do rock-paper scissors here? What are we going to do?

"Then he goes, 'Three years Super League.' He was talking about how he played in the Russian professional league for three years and I'd only played one year in the NHL (laughs)."

And with that, it was settled - Malkin would go out last and Crosby would go out second-to-last. It's been the same routine ever since over the past 14 years.

Until tonight.

As the Penguins players walked out of the locker room and down the runway ahead of their game against Ottawa on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena, Crosby lined up in front of Patrick Marleau, who moved into the penultimate spot ahead of Malkin.

Crosby was the one who precipitated the change, partly as a gesture of respect for the 40-year-old veteran - who has played in 1,719 career games, which ranks as the fifth-most in NHL history - and partly in an attempt to change the Penguins' luck, as they had lost six straight heading into tonight.

The switch worked, as the Penguins ended up with a 7-3 win over the Senators.

"He's played 1,700-plus games, and I just asked him where he usually went," Crosby said. "He usually went somewhere back there, so I just said, 'Let's try that spot tonight.' We got the win, so I'm sure you'll see that for now, anyway (laughs)."

While Marleau always went last in San Jose, where he spent over 20 of his 22 NHL seasons before the Penguins acquired him on trade deadline day, he said he isn't particularly superstitious - but will placate his teammates that are.

"I'll do whatever these guys tell me to do," he said with a laugh. "We just wanted to switch some things up. It worked tonight, so we'll see how long it lasts."

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