SUN Hockey Pool

Stopping Sid the Kid takes skill

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:24 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- At least Miikka Kiprusoff came out on top during one head-to-head battle with Sidney Crosby.

You bet the Calgary Flames netminder takes a bit of pride in that.

After all, stopping Sid the Kid on the early penalty shot in Saturday's 4-1 Pittsburgh Penguins victory over the Flames was no small feat.

"He made some fakes and I was able to put my glove there," Kiprusoff said. "Pretty skilled guy, so it feels good to stop him."

Unfortunately for the Flames, that was about the only time Crosby was held in check.

The Olympic gold-medal overtime hero had his way with the Flames in their only meeting of the season and first-ever visit to the Consol Energy Center.

Crosby scored three times -- at even strength, on the powerplay and with a shorthanded goal into an empty net -- to pace the Penguins.

And if you want to know the truly scary part, it was considered a ho-hum day at the office.

"He's been outstanding, as we've come to expect of him," said Calgary product Craig Adams.

It sure makes you wonder what would actually excite them, since his sixth career hat-trick didn't do the trick.

After all, Crosby's second goal was the 200th of this already incredible career.

He moved ahead of Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos in the league's scoring race and now has a 12-game point streak in which he's netted 12 goals and 13 assists. He's scored at least two points in nine of the last 14 games.

Crosby is on pace for career highs of 131 points and 59 goals.

Not bad for somebody who said he doesn't have specific goals in mind.

"Last year, I felt like I shot a lot and did everything I needed to do, and obviously the puck went in," he said. "You just have a certain way you want to play and hope that results in goals, doesn't mean it always does. You're going to hit posts, miss chances. But, no, no total. You just have an idea of what you want to do to be successful."

The Flames were certainly impressed.

"He showed why he's the best in the game right now," said Jarome Iginla, who spent time alongside Crosby at the Vancouver games and set up Crosby's golden goal.

But there must be a way to stop him.

"I don't think so. If there is, nobody's figured it out," defenceman Mark Giordano said. "He seems to find those spots. Our gameplan was to play him hard and I thought we were playing him hard, but he's one of those guys who'll get a chance and make it count.

"He's the best player in the game for a reason. He's tough to play against."

Brent Sutter has seen plenty of Crosby over his time, and what he appreciates more than the points is what the star does to be such a force.

"He's got creativity in his game and a tremendous skill set, but it's his compete level," Sutter raved. "It's the way he is. He's a tough guy to defend against because he's so strong and he does things the right way -- a north-south guy, gets into really tough areas, creates chances for his linemates and for his team just because of his work ethic and his commitment in how hard he plays every shift."

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