So that’s “the kid” that’s been taking the National Hockey League by storm the past two-plus seasons.
The Minnesota Wild, and its overflow sellout crowd of 18,568, probably knew all the fuss about Sidney Crosby was warranted. That didn’t mean everybody inside the Xcel Energy Center wasn’t taken aback when the young phenom figured in all four Pittsburgh goals by assisting on three, and icing the game with a breakaway goal in a 4-2 win over the Wild on Tuesday night.
With a national television audience at his disposal, Crosby was dynamic and the undermanned Wild couldn’t stop him and his linemate, Evgeni Malkin, despite a valiant effort.
“I felt we played a pretty good game,” said Wild Head Coach Jacques Lemaire. “Wes’ line did a great job on their top line. But we were lacking of scoring.”
Without injured stars Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra, the Wild twice battled back from a goal down to tie the game, including a third period conversion by Brian Rolston that knotted the game at 2-2. But a late Penguins power play – their only man advantage of the night – led to a Petr Sykora goal, and a demoralizing turn of events.
Stephane Veilleux scored his first goal of the season, and Mikko Koivu assisted on both Wild tallies.
“It feels good when you can tie the game in the situation we were in there,” said Koivu. “We couldn’t keep it that way and that’s something we have to learn. Earlier in the season, we’d tie the game and win, but you can’t do that every night. That’s obvious.”
All night, the Pens had an answer for Wild momentum. After Malkin opened the scoring by stuffing in a wraparound in the second, Veilleux tied the game by blasting home the rebound off Branko Radivojevic’s pipe shot. But just 15 seconds later, Malkin rapped in a bouncing puck past a sprawling Josh Harding.
“The only way you can get through (the bad bounces) is hard work,” said Harding, who refused to make excuses. “Obviously it’s very frustrating, but you’ve gotta work through it.”
The Wild did work to tie the game again when Koivu juked his way to the side of the net before hitting Rolston in the crease. Again, Pittsburgh answered less than four minutes later.
“The goal that brought us back didn’t last,” said Lemaire. “The excitement that we had to score didn’t last a long time.”
That’s when Crosby really took over. He fed Sykora in the slot for the game-winner, and then iced it with a breakaway tally.
“As soon as (Crosby and Malkin) get room, they can create. That’s what they did.”
Said Rolston, “He’s a good player, there’s no question about that. He figured in on every one of their goals, so I guess we didn’t do a good job on that line.”
The Wild has now dropped four straight, and will have to rebound against St. Louis on Thursday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Game Puck Goes To…
Sidney Crosby. Sid The Kid looked like a man out there, setting up his teammates, and finishing when he got the space.
Mikko Koivu. The emerging leader had numerous chances to score, and made a bull rush to set up Rolston’s goal that tied it.
Rolston now has a goal in six of his last eight games. He leads the club with six tallies.