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A Signature Goal, A Statement Shows Sid’s Still Got It

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PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 06: Pittsburgh Penguins Center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts after scoring a goal during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators on April 6, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

It’s difficult to map the path that Sidney Crosby took Tuesday as he stickhandled all over the Edmonton Oilers zone before he scored on a backhander at 2:12 of overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 6-5 win.

A giant 87 maybe? A flowing SC? A big No. 1 index finger?

Certainly, it was a Crosby signature goal, one of many in his career, and it came in a matchup between the player who has been called the face of hockey for more than a decade, and young Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid.

Take a look:

Crosby’s description of the goal was typically and woefully understated.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked to rank the goal among his beauties. “Nice to see it go in. Had some good looks. Nice to get the first one.”

Winger Patric Hornqvist, who, like Crosby, scored twice in the game, was willing to say what Crosby would not.

“I think he showed tonight he’s the best player in the world,” Hornqvist said. “He always shows up when you guys are saying he’s not the best anymore and all that. And then he comes in and does that, probably the nicest goal through his whole career. It says a lot.”

Not sure who “you guys” referred to. Reporters? Talking heads? Fans? The debate over whether one of the youngster superstars — McDavid, Toronto’s Auston Matthews or maybe Colorado’s Nate MacKinnon — has passed Crosby, 31, has been simmering, especially with Crosby enduring his longest goal drought at the start of a season, six games, before Tuesday’s game.

But Crosby himself added fuel to that fire last week when he told NHL.com that McDavid was the best these days. Not that Crosby is ever one to sing his own praises.

Thursday, Crosby didn’t score but helped shut down Matthews in a 3-0 win at Toronto. Tuesday, the Penguins’ next game, McDavid had a goal and an assist, while Crosby scored twice, including, of course, the spectacular winner.

So maybe actions speak louder than words.

“My experience of being around Sid is he’s just really a driven guy, and he doesn’t really get caught up in a lot of the storylines from game to game or regardless of who we play,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s just a real good player who tries to be the best that he can be. I thought he had a great game. … The overtime goal is one of the prettiest goals that I’ve seen.”

Crosby noted that there are interesting matchups in a lot of games, but did allow that, “Everybody understands, players especially, when there’s more eyes on the game or when there’s big challenges ahead. I think you just understand that. I think you just try and be at your best, whether it’s a rival or opposing center or opposing defenseman, you get up for that.”

Aha. A hint of the competitive bug.

Anyway, it seems like a good time to enjoy some of Crosby’s  previous highlights:

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Shelly is the newest columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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