Crosby leads Penguins

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:57 PM ET

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby served notice that the defending champs aren’t going down without a fight.

Thanks to Sid the Kid, the Senators — who scored 18 seconds into Game 2 on Friday night — had to settle for a split of the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarter-final in Pittsburgh.

Crosby scored a goal, saved a goal, then set up Kris Letang for the winning goal late in the third period as the Penguins earned a 2-1 decision.

“They had more urgency that we did,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston.

“They got pucks in deep, put some pressure on us, and we didn’t skate quite as well as the other night (a 5-4 Senators win in Game 1 on Wednesday). They played a little more intense.”

Crosby, chased by Jason Spezza around the net, fell to the ice as he threw the puck to Letang at the point. He then fired a shot that beat a screened Brian Elliott on the stick side at 15:48 of the third.

“It’s an easy save if I can see it. I just lost sight of it. They had a good shot from the point with guys in front,” said Elliott, who saved 29-of-31 shots.

Said Spezza: “I was right there with (Crosby), trying not to let it get to the net and he was able to slide it back to the ‘D’. It was a bit of a seeing-eye shot.”

That pass wasn’t the only magic Crosby performed. He stopped what would have been the go-ahead goal — and potential game-winner to give the Senators a commanding 2-0 series lead — at 10:47 of the third when he chipped a puck heading into the net out of the crease.

“We battled really hard,” said Crosby. “We got rewarded at the end.”

Clouston said it’s tough to keep Crosby off the scoreboard.

“We knew he was going to have some success. It’s impossible just to stop him, especially every night,” said Clouston. “He was the best player on the ice. He showed what he’s able to do.”

He was also able to tie it at 8:45 of the first period. After Elliott made the initial stop on Chris Kunitz, Crosby jumped on a juicy rebound, beating Elliott glove side with a backhander for his first goal of these playoffs.

Right after the opening faceoff, Peter Regin and the Senators sent the Mellon Arena crowd into a state of shock on Ottawa’s first shot of the game. Regin took a pass from Spezza, crossed the blue line and fired a bullet by Fleury high on the glove side.

The Penguins goalie — already under fire after giving up five goals on 26 shots in the opener — then heard the Bronx cheers. But Fleury shook off the goal and turned aside the next 19 shots.

This is turning into a fast, physical series and if there wasn’t any hatred between the clubs, there certainly is now.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was livid as he left the ice after the first period, screaming at officials Bill McCreary and Ian Walsh. Bylsma couldn’t understand why Senators defenceman Andy Sutton wasn’t penalized for a hit on Jordan Leopold.

Sutton caught Leopold with his head down on a hit that was close to being an elbow to the head. Leopold had to be helped off the ice and didn’t return.

“It was a great hit,” said Senators GM Bryan Murray. “It was a clean hit.”

A split in Pittsburgh was not good enough for Spezza.

“We’re not satisfied. We wanted to try to steal two here,” he said. “You’ve got to look at the positives: We’re going home now (for Game 3 Sunday) and we can use our crowd to give us momentum.”


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