Sidney Crosby was held in check by the Ottawa Senators in his playoff debut. But on Saturday, he showed everyone that the kid is alright.
Crosby broke a 3-3 deadlock with 8:16 remaining to lift the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the Senators in Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final at Scotiabank Place.
"Good players always find a way to hurt other teams," Penguins head coach Michel Therrien said. "And this is what he did."
"We created more offence," Crosby said. "That made them work much harder to try to shut us down.
"You have to make sure everything is balanced, especially in the playoffs. We need to keep all four lines rolling in the same way like that."
Crosby's decisive goal came on a splendid effort as he took a return pass from Mark Recchi and swept it by Senators netminder Ray Emery from one knee.
"You couldn't write it any better," Recchi said. "I was hoping it would stand up.
"I was hoping he would get that game-winner. He deserved it."
It was Pittsburgh's first playoff win in six years and tied the best-of-seven series 1-1.
Ottawa's record in the second game of a playoff series is 0-7 after winning the opener.
"We played a little bit tentatively, as evidenced by them getting a goal on their first shot," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said. "That's hockey sometimes.
"You play good hockey and the other team does better. They didn't touch the puck for two periods, so we should have won the game."
Game 3 goes Sunday at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena (CBC, 6 p.m. ET).
Ryan Whitney and Gary Roberts scored power-play goals for the fifth-seeded Penguins.
"We were real fortunate to get out of today, no doubt about it," said Roberts, who also notched an assist.
"But we came out in the third period and showed some character. I thought our young guys really competed hard, and showed the reason why this team had 105 points in the regular season."
Fleury stands firm
Rookie Jordan Staal counted the other tally in support of Marc-André Fleury, who finished with 34 saves.
"Marc-Andre was the difference," Therrien said. "He made key saves and gave us a chance to win."
"We wanted to make sure we didn't give up a huge lead like we did in the last game," Crosby said. "[Fleury] was a big part of that and then, as we battled into the third and we had that lead, he was just shutting them down."
Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin, the favourite to win the Calder Trophy as top rookie, each had two assists.
Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza had a goal and an assist apiece for the fourth-ranked Senators.
Chris Kelly had the other goal as Ottawa outshot Pittsburgh 37-21.
Christoph Schubert, who drew the Penguins' ire when he clipped Malkin in Game 1, suffered a strained neck in a collision with Maxime Talbot midway through the first period and did not return.
Alfredsson makes amends
When Alfredsson drew the first of five minor penalties called in the first period, Whitney capitalized with a power-play goal on a slapshot from the point 3:01 into the contest.
Alfredsson made amends on Ottawa's tying goal 8:28 into the second period, bursting around Gonchar and cutting inside to take a shot that was stopped, leaving Spezza to flip in the rebound.
Alfredsson put the Senators ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at 16:44, finishing off a sensational tic-tac-toe play involving Heatley and Spezza after Colby Armstrong was penalized for crashing into Emery on a 2-on-1 break.
Mike Comrie took exception and told Armstrong so, sparking a fight just four seconds into the third period.
"We tried to start off better, more physical, and skate a bit more," Crosby said.
Twenty seconds later, Mike Fisher was penalized for slashing and Roberts potted a rebound on the ensuing power play to tie it 2:04into the period.
Kelly quickly restored Ottawa's one-goal lead, settling Dean McAmmond's flip pass and snapping a shot past Fleury at the 6:18 mark.
But the Penguins evened proceedings at 3-3 when Roberts knocked the puck loose behind the net, allowing Michel Ouellet to set up Staal for his first playoff goal at 9:34.
"He has been doing that a long time," Crosby said of Roberts. "You cannot help but follow when someone is playing like that.
"He was banging bodies, was putting the puck in the net, was doing everything in his power really to make a big difference in that game — and he did. When you see anybody lead by example, especially a veteran like that, I don't think you can help but follow that and, I think, we all followed that lead."
Pittsburgh's last playoff win came May 15, 2001, when it doubled the New Jersey Devils 4-2 in Game 2 of the conference final.
The Devils won that series 4-1.