PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby was reaching for answers but, to his credit, not for excuses.
The memorable parlay of Stanley Cup championship on to Olympic gold won’t get a third consecutive title after Wednesday night’s 5-2 Penguins loss to Montreal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-final.
Crosby admitted that it’s been a grind, going to the NHL final each of the past two springs, so much of that playing the game at breakneck level. But rather than moan about it, the Nova Scotian will cherish those accomplishments.
“I’m not going to sit here and complain about playing in Stanley Cup finals and Olympic gold-medal games,” said a clearly disappointed Penguins captain after once again being neutralized by the Canadiens. “That’s a good problem to have. You’ve got to deal with it.
“There are times when it’s a grind, no doubt. But by no means is that an excuse or reason for anything. I would never blame that. They are great things to be a part of.”
Crosby, who finished the playoffs with six goals and 13 assists, was controlled through much of the series, a point of emphasis by Habs coach Jacques Martin, who knew that limiting the Penguins centres would be a huge key to their success.
“When you face a team with a Crosby, a Malkin and a Staal, it’s a big challenge,” Martin said. “(They were kept in check) by a real great team effort.”
Though heavily favoured against the Habs, Crosby said the Penguins never took them for granted, especially after it became apparent early in the series that they were in for a battle.
“Looking back at Game 4, we had the lead there and had a couple of bad breaks,” said Crosby, who was ridden hard by the Bell Centre crowd in the three games played in Montreal. “But you can always look back. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. It came down to execution, it came down to one game, that’s basically it.”