PITTSBURGH — “Our team gets a foot taller when (Sidney Crosby) is in the lineup,”– Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “I thought his game was inspiring.”
And that it was. Sidney Crosby was absolutely dominant when the game was in doubt. He carried his team and delivered. With Crosby behind the wheel, the Penguins ship did not steer off course, nor did they relax. They played a complete game, allowed only 19 shots on goal and finally won a game.
Yes, the Penguins finally won. The Penguins frittered away their simple game and a certain win against the Buffalo Sabres, Monday. They did no such thing against the lesser Dallas Star, Wednesday. Make no mistake, the return of Sidney Crosby was hugely important, but so too was the simple game the Penguins played.
Aside from one two-on-one break which resulted from a blue line turnover, the Penguins were fastidious on defense. Few bobbles. Few errors. Even as Dallas initially attempted to pressure the Penguins defense and breakouts in the first period.
Dallas attempted to emulate the Buffalo attack and take away the Penguins breakout on the wall. However, after a few easy escapes, the Penguins cruised.
Dallas had only 10 shots through two periods, including just three shots on net in the first period.
Much the Penguins analysis is simple: Sidney Crosby. The Penguins star was just that, Wednesday. He outskated and outworked everyone in the first period to set the tone. By the time the first period expired, Dallas was beaten and Crosby had a goal and an assist. Crosby’s goal was a work of grinder art.
The Penguins played a simple game. There was a lot of cycling, hard corner work, and when they had a chance to get the puck in deep, they did. It doesn’t seem glamorous or sexy, but the results will allow everyone a resultful sleep–their first in a while.
Except for a four-minute spurt in the second period (set up by an Evgeni Malkin turnover at the offensive blue line), Dallas was never in the hockey game. However, there were several standout performances beyond Sidney Patrick Crosby.