Sutter says Crosby goal has own spot in history

By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

The celebrations and the comparisons started almost simultaneously.

Just moments after Sidney Crosby scored in overtime to end Sunday’s gold-medal clash with Team USA at the Olympics, his heroic goal was being mentioned in the same breath as Mario Lemieux’s game-winner at the 1987 Canada Cup.

Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter witnessed Lemieux’s historic marker from Team Canada’s bench in his role as a talented two-way forward but admitted it’s difficult to compare that goal to Crosby’s timely tally against the Americans.

“A lot of people said that game was the best hockey game that was ever played,” Sutter recalled of the rubber-match in an intense three-game set between Canada and the arch-rival Soviets.

“When you’re a part of it, you know it was a heck of a game you’re involved in, but to compare it now sitting as a fan on the outside, it’s a little different.

“But it was a great game to watch (Sunday), as a fan. It had a little bit of everything in it.”

You can bet Canadian hockey fans will be talking about this one for a long, long time.

Thanks to a nail-biting finish, the final event of the 2010 Winter Olympics will be forever linked to the last game of the 1987 Canada Cup tournament and the finale of the 1972 Summit Series, when Paul Henderson banged in a rebound with 34 seconds remaining to clinch a Canadian victory.

Sutter doesn’t need to see the replays to remember Lemieux’s decisive counter in 1987, when the Penguins superstar — and Crosby’s current landlord in Pittsburgh — capitalized on an odd-man rush with Wayne Gretzky and defenceman Larry Murphy to give Canada a 6-5 lead with 1:26 remaining in the third period.

“When you’ve got those talented players and they’re going down on a three-on-one, you know something is going to happen. There’s a good chance you’re going to have a pretty good quality scoring opportunity off of it,” Sutter said. “Obviously, it got in the right player’s hands and he was able to score on it. And (Sunday) was no different. It’s Sidney Crosby. You look at the elite class of players, and he’s one of top one or two players in the National Hockey League. To see him finish it off that way ...

“I know from coaching Sidney, he plays hard every game no matter how tight of checking it is. He plays through that stuff, and he just keeps going and keeps pushing. That’s what a marquee player (does). That’s why he is what he is, and that’s why he is such a high marquee player.

“And for him to score like that, it shows he’s also a pretty big-pressure player, too.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

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