PITTSBURGH -- Marian Hossa pulled another post-season disappearance act yesterday.
Of course, the reason you couldn't see him this time was because of the number of gleeful Pittsburgh Penguins teammates who had piled on top of him in celebration of his winning goal at 7:10 of overtime, one that gave the Pens a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers and a 4-1 victory in their Eastern Conference semi-final.
Dogged by the reputation of coming up small in previous post-season appearances, Hossa answered the critics with a two-goal performance that propelled the Pens into the Eastern Conference final.
"Well, I had some bad playoffs and I had some good playoffs," Hossa said. "I can not control what other people say about my playoff performance. But I'm with a great team right now and things are much easier.
"I'm just enjoying the ride."
Coming into the 2008 playoffs, Hossa had compiled a rather moribund post-season resume of 35 points in 55 games. But he has flourished in Penguins black-and-gold, compiling 10 points in nine playoff games thus far.
Interestingly, the team that thought it might land him at the trade deadline, Montreal, was eliminated Saturday night. The team that actually did pull off the deal for him, Pittsburgh, is now moving on.
Told that, teammate Pascal Dupuis, who assisted on the winning goal, was happy that Hossa had "got the monkey off his back," Hossa replied: "I don't know exactly what he meant."
Hossa's legions of critics certainly do.