Penguins take care of business
Crosby sets pace in rout of Capitals
WASHINGTON - For a guy who supposedly shies from the limelight, Sidney Crosby was as good as could be in the first Game 7 of his career.
The rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins were pretty close to perfect, too.
Crosby scored twice to raise his NHL-leading playoff goal total to 12, his teammates shut down his big rival, Alex Ovechkin, most of the night, and the Penguins beat the Washington Capitals, 6-2, last night to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive season.
"[Crosby] won't say he likes front and center, the big stage, or anything like that," Penguins forward Bill Guerin said. "But he knows how to perform in it."
Everyone chipped in for the Penguins, from the stars to the second thoughts, from regular-season scoring leader Evgeni Malkin's two assists, to fourth-line forward Craig Adams's first goal in 42 career postseason games. Defenseman Kris Letang, Guerin, and Jordan Staal scored, too. Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves and didn't allow a goal until his team led 5-0.
Indeed, plenty of Penguins considered the key moment was Fleury's nerve-testing save on two-time NHL goal leader Ovechkin on a breakaway 3:01 into a scoreless game.
"That sends your team a message right away," Crosby said. "It allows you to calm down a little."
Even Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said: "It didn't seem like we had a lot of emotion, but if Alex would have put that one in on the breakaway, who knows? It might have been a different story."
The Penguins will face the Bruins or Hurricanes, who play their second-round Game 7 tonight.
Crosby put the visitors ahead, 1-0, with a power-play goal 7 1/2 minutes in from his favorite spot on the ice: the net's doorstep. He assisted on Pittsburgh's third goal, then added something of a finishing touch with another power-play goal in the third period. He stole the puck from Ovechkin before beating Simeon Varlamov's replacement in net, Jose Theodore, to make it 6-1.
"It just hurts," Ovechkin said. "I don't want to talk about me, personally. It's all about team."
His too-late-to-mean-anything goal, in the second period, allowed Ovechkin to finish the series with 14 points - one more than Crosby.