The 18-year-old rookie beat Jose Theodore with a backhander for
the only goal in the first shootout in Montreal Canadiens history
and Pittsburgh recovered after losing a two-goal lead for a 3-2
victory Thursday night.
"It's so amazing, it's hard to believe," Crosby said of a
memorable game against the team he grew up rooting for. "I was
just fortunate to get that shot. I got lucky with that shot."
Crosby got a goal that counted in regulation and so did Lemieux,
barely a minute after he was lay prone on the ice after being hit
by a stick. Jocelyn Thibault, previously winless, turned aside 30
shots in easily his best game of the season. He outdueled Theodore
as Pittsburgh beat the team with the Eastern Conference's best
record a night after losing 5-0 in Atlanta.
But it will be the kind of move that only stars can make, by
Crosby, that likely will show up on highlight reels.
After Theodore stopped Mark Recchi and Lemieux, the goalie came
out early to challenge Crosby, but the rookie skated to the right
of the crease and switched from forehand to backhand to give
Pittsburgh its first shootout victory.
"I watched Mario take his shot, and go to his forehand,"
Crosby said. "I saw that he (Theodore) committed a lot when he did
that, so I did the same thing and figured he'd commit the same way,
but only I went to the side and went to the backhand."
Lemieux was impressed how Crosby made up the move on the fly.
"He's quite amazing. It's great to be on the ice with him,"
Lemieux said. "He just came out with a great play on that shot."
And to think that before the game, several Montreal players said
they weren't all that worried about facing Crosby for the first
time -- or, it seemed, a Pittsburgh team that needed 10 games to get
its first victory but has now won four of six.
"People talk a lot about Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh showed
tonight they're really a good team," Theodore said. "They have so
many skilled players, it's scary to face them. He (Crosby) made a
nice play -- good players make good moves and he made a good move."
Pittsburgh, playing its third game in four nights in three
cities, also unexpectedly welcomed back forward John LeClair after
he missed three games with several fractured bones in his face.
LeClair, wearing a full face visor, played his regular shifts but
Crosby, whose goaltender father, Troy, was drafted in 1984 by
the Canadiens but never played for them, scored with just over
seven minutes gone in the first when he threw the puck on net from
the left circle and it deflected off defenseman Francis Bouillon's
skate for his sixth goal.
The 40-year-old Lemieux, another member of that 1984 draft
class, made it 2-0 with a goal reminiscent of his prime years.
Barely a minute after being stretched out behind the net for
several minutes after being inadvertently hit in the face by
Mathieu Dandenault's stick late in the first, Lemieux deftly
steered Ziggy Palffy's pass from the right wing boards under the
crossbar before Theodore could reach it. It was Lemieux's seventh
goal and 690th of his career.
Montreal tied it on rookie Chris Higgins' one-timer from the
right circle off Andrei Markov's pass with 3½ minutes left in the
third following a long penalty kill. Steve Begin was ejected and
drew a five-minute penalty for leveling Maxime Talbot with an
elbow, but Recchi shortened the power play by taking an
interference penalty midway through it.
Thibault, hurt part of the season and ineffective when he has
played with an 0-3-1 record and 5.39 goals-against average going
into the game, also allowed Craig Rivet's goal midway through the
second on a power play.
It was the Penguins' second shootout; they lost their
second game of the season at Carolina when Ziggy Palffy, Lemieux
and Crosby couldn't score. ... Montreal D Sheldon Souray sustained
an unspecified foot injury. ... Montreal was 15-3-2 against the
Penguins the previous five seasons. Theodore was denied an 11th
victory that would have tied him with Detroit's Manny Legace for
the league lead. ... Crosby faced an NHL team from Canada for the