Crosby scored a goal, added an assist, made a save and won an impressive 68 percent of his faceoffs (13-for-19) as the Penguins picked up a 2-1 win to even their series with the Senators.
Eight minutes after Peter Regin gave Ottawa the lead just 18 seconds into the first period -- on yet another shot that Marc-Andre Fleury would probably like to have back -- Crosby followed up a Chris Kunitz shot and banged home a rebound for his first goal of the postseason, tying the game. It might be worth pointing out that the goal came with Ottawa's shutdown pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips on the ice, especially since we spent so much time looking at that matchup prior to the series. The goal was his first even strength tally against that pairing in two years.
The score remained even for the next 47 minutes as the two teams played a brutally physical game, combing for over 80 hits, including 52 that were credited to the Penguins. Considering the physicality of the game, including a crushing hit by Andy Sutton on Jordan Leopold that knocked him out of the game, and some late period pleasantries between Mike Rupp, Max Talbot and Zack Smith, the referees let the two teams play, calling just six minor penalties.
The Senators nearly took the lead midway through the third period when an Anton Volchenkov shot from between the circles founds it way through Fleury and slowly rolled toward the goal line. As it was just about to come to a stop, Crosby dove across the crease and cleared the loose puck.
With less than five minutes to play, and overtime looming, Crosby went to work behind the net against Jason Spezza and skated circles around him -- literally and figuratively -- before finding defenseman Kris Letang at the blue line for the game-winning goal.
Spezza was all over him, but Crosby absolutely refused to give in and continued to out-work him.
The talk in Pittsburgh for the past couple of weeks has been about the Penguins "playing their game," and doing the types of things they did last year on their way to the Stanley Cup. When it comes to actually doing those things, it's been hit or miss. On Wednesday night they didn't. On Friday, they did. The Penguins were physical, strong defensively and spent twice as much time in the offensive zone as Ottawa (15:44 for the Penguins, 7:36 for the Senators).
The key will be putting together back-to-back games like this, something they've struggled to do over the past month, winning just seven of their past 16 (including playoffs).