There are few tasks more frustrating than trying to shut down shifty junior hockey superstar Sidney Crosby.
Attempting to catch black flies with your fingers comes close. Tying your shoelaces with one hand is another.
Or how about crossing a busy highway with your eyes closed?
Anyway you cut it, it's a thankless job. But despite a choppy first period last night in their Memorial Cup opener, London's hand-picked Sidney shadows grew more and more comfortable with their assignment and shut down the high-scoring Rimouski forward in the later stages of the Knights' dramatic 4-3 overtime victory.
In fact, Crosby-watcher Marc Methot, the big physical Knights defenceman, had enough in the tank left to score twice, including the overtime winner.
"That was kind of the role (to contain Crosby) for Dan (Girardi) and I," said the Knights' hero.
"I thought the line of (Brandon) Prust, Drew Larman and Trevor Kell did an amazing job against him. It's not an easy task. He's a tremendous player. You hit him and his frame doesn't really show how strong he is. Sidney obviously has strong legs."
Methot knocked Crosby's helmet off in the first period and Prust constantly jabbed away at the Canadian Hockey League's top scorer. None of it seemed to work. Crosby scored Rimouski's first goal, made a gorgeous pass for his team's second goal and was on the ice for a third tally as the Oceanic staked a 3-1 lead.
"It didn't look good early. He got on the scoresheet right away," said Knights captain Danny Syvret, who played with Crosby at the world juniors this year.
"I think too many guys tried for the big hit and it's tough to do against him. If you're not patient, that's when he can pick you apart. But it got better as the game went on. We didn't chase him and we shut him down pretty well."
Watching tape of Rimouski games a few days before the Cup began, Methot had said, "It looks like Crosby has got an awful lot of room out there. You've got to give him respect but I think when it comes down to it, we've got to be all over him."
The big defenceman felt the No. 1-ranked Knights would be able to go at Crosby in waves and make him tired. "I don't think we'll have as much of a problem with it," he had said. "Don't get me wrong. I think he's a great player, but with all the depth we have on our team, we can control him pretty easily."
That tune quickly changed. Crosby scored on a Girardi error with Methot serving an interference penalty and then beat Methot to the puck in the corner to set up hard-shooting linemate Marc-Antoine Pouliot for Rimouski's second goal.
"You can't really underestimate him when it comes down to it," Methot had said beforehand.
Crosby came as advertised -- a tremendous effort.