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January 17, 2019
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Pittsburgh Penguins closed out a perfect 5-0-0 road trip with a real wizard 4-3 shootout win in Washington on Sunday. Aw, it was a beauty.
Kid Crosby, who had a goal and an assist in regulation, scored the lone goal in the shootout, pumping his leg and faking backhand before blistering a wrist shot over Jose Theodore’s glove. It’s understandable why Theodore bit on the backhand move. His water bottle is still in orbit from the first time he faced Sid in the solo skills competition.
And Crosby’s shot was ridiculous. He piped it like a champ. No curve needed there. But again, the straight blade isn’t an issue when he has that much time and can shovel the puck under the bar. But I digress.
After Sid did what Sid does, namely rising to the occasion in big moments, Alexander Ovechkin stepped to center ice. Ovechkin had ripped a wrister behind Marc-Andre Fleury early in the third period to lead the Caps back from a 3-1 deficit, but he couldn’t solve the Flower when it mattered most. That’s a shame.
It was hardly a perfect game for the Pens. Crosby staked them to a 1-0 lead before Kris Letang committed an egregious turnover to gift wrap Washington’s first goal. The second-year blueliner stood behind the Penguin net without a hint of pressure and attempted a ludicrous aerial pass up the middle, hitting Nicklas Backstrom in the belly. Backstrom pounced on the puck and whipped a pass to Semin for an all-world finish.
That Semin dude is special. And whatever you do, don’t get him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Unless, you know, you like to laugh. But at least the Salvation Army won’t be bugging Letang this month. Everyone saw him give at the office. Charity starts at home… or behind the net with Kris Letang.
Pittsburgh carried a 3-1 lead into the third thanks to Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin goals. Guerin’s was real swank. He took a nifty Crosby pass off the boards and humiliated Shaone Morrisonn with a sick toe-drag.
Of course, back in Guerin’s day, that move was called a loopty-loop. Yes, sir, it was the cat’s pajamas. Guerin hopped in his flivver and celebrated with some giggle juice down at the speakeasy.
Ovechkin’s power-play goal at the start of the third pulled the Caps to within 3-2, setting the stage for yet another Pittsburgh miscue. The Pens butchered a line change, allowing Brooks Laich to skate in home free and destroy Fleury on the forehand. Who knew Laich had it in him?
Pittsburgh wasn’t done making mistakes. Later in the third, Crosby was apparently the lone Penguin employee to realize the team had only four men on the ice. It took quite a bit of hollering for the bench to wake up. Yeah, those voluntary shorthanded situations are a great way to make it fun. All the cool teams do it.
Despite winning six in a row, the Pens have barely been able to make up ground in the Wales, hovering only one point ahead of ninth place Carolina. Think where they’d be if the road trip turned sour. They now head home for a monumental Tuesday tilt with the Panthers. After that, it’s one game in Columbus and then eight straight at home. Time to make hay. This road trip won’t mean a damn thing unless they cash in those home games.
Also, if you’re keeping track, four remains the magic number for Crosby. When he gets four shots in a game, the Pens win. He’s had four shots in both games since returning from his groin injury and has produced two goals, an assist, and two victories. The Pens are now 17-8-2 when Crosby registers four shots, and he’s posted 20 goals and 48 points in those 27 games.
And congrats to the Caps fans. It was a playoff atmosphere at the Verizon Center. Many of the faithful even came with pacifiers to mock Crosby. So it was only fitting that in the end Sid told them to suck it.