The Kid will have his day

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby bites his bottom lip after losing their series to the Ottawa...

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby bites his bottom lip after losing their series to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. (Sun Media/Sean Kilpatrick)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

If there is one thing the Pittsburgh Penguins can take away in defeat it is that Sidney Crosby's time might not have been now, in this spring, but it is not far off.

That's not something they were thinking about in the moments after their elimination by the Senators last night, but it is the truth.

In his first exposure to playoff hockey, the 19-year-old did not disappoint.

He was his team's best player, relentlessly competitive.

It is up to Penguins GM Ray Shero to get him more help, and he will, but in this series, the more experienced, deeper Senators were able to blanket Crosby's rising star.

No shame in that.

"I thought that was the highlight on our side," said Senators GM John Muckler, noting the work of defencemen Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. "You have to give them a lot of credit for controlling him for five games. They did a super job.

"We witnessed a potential superstar who is going to control the whole game in the near future."

The Senators did it by neutralizing Crosby where he had the potential to be the most dangerous, on the power play.

If there is one reason why the Senators were able to beat the Penguins in five games, it was Ottawa's ability to shut down the Penguins' power play.

The Penguins had four power-play goals on 13 chances in the first two games of the series as they gained a split in Ottawa (their two in Game 1 came late in the 6-3 loss; the other two were in their 4-3 Game 2 win).

But since the end of Game 2, the Penguins went 0-for-15 while dropping all three games and getting their ticket home for the summer.

There was no better example of the importance of the Senators' penalty killing than in the first six minutes of last night's game.

Ottawa's penalty killers held things together as the Senators were given three straight minors to start the game. They were short-handed for four minutes and 32 seconds, including two stretches in which they were down two men, one of 74 seconds and another for 14 seconds.

They gave up six shots, but no goals.

"We had a couple of power-play chances where we could have really put them in a hole," said Crosby, "but we didn't put them away and we let them hang around."

The Penguins had the fifth-best unit in the NHL during the regular season on a percentage basis and were tops in the league with 94 goals scored with the man advantage.

If there seemed to be a place where Crosby could be a leverage player in this series, you would have thought it would be on the power play.

It's pretty simple. No matter how good a player is, take away his time and space and things become difficult, even for the best of them.

"It was a matter of getting our 'D' more active from the hash marks on down," said Senators assistant coach Greg Carvel.

Crosby likes to set up down low in the right-wing corner and feed defenceman Sergei Gonchar at the point. The Penguins coaching staff tried moving Crosby from side-to-side, but the Senators kept him under control.

"We gave him too much time in the first couple of games," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We put pressure on him and took Gonchar away. Once he gets it on top, they can create things and force us to move the box."

WINNING BATTLES

The Senators also forced the Penguins, a team that likes to carry the puck in, to shoot it in and the work of the Senators defencemen saw them win most of the battles for the pucks.

They were helped by the presence of Christoph Schubert, who was shifted back to the blue line from his duties as a fourth-line winger whenever a Senators defenceman found himself in the penalty box.

Schubert possesses the qualities of a solid penalty killer.

He's got the three "S's" said Carvel.

"Size, speed and strength," he said. "He's such a great skater and he's big and strong and he's better than any other guy we have at getting the puck down the ice."

The Senators were better in all the key areas: Special teams and goaltending.

The fans inhaled it all in the final minutes, rising to their feet with two minutes left.

As time ran out, Crosby skated slowly to the Pittsburgh bench, handed his stick to an equipment man and joined his teammates for the handshake.

His time will come.

The Senators?

They can still hope their time is now.


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