Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby sends a shot past Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak during first period Game 6 NHL Eastern Conference semi-final hockey action Monday, May 10, 2010 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
MONTREAL - Sidney Crosby avoided matching his longest goal drought of the season, but it wasn't enough to allow the Pittsburgh Penguins to avoid a decisive seventh game against the pesky Montreal Canadiens.
Crosby ended a six-game skid with a first period goal to tie the game 1-1, but the Penguins still dropped Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal to the Canadiens 4-3 on Monday.
Crosby scored when he batted the puck out of the air and past Jaroslav Halak 7:22 into the game.
?It was nice to see one go in,?Crosby said.?You work hard to get chances, so yeah, for sure, it always feels good to score.?
Crosby twice went seven games without a goal this season, once from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12 and another time from March 14-27.
Of course, the timing of this streak is considerably more troublesome, so one might expect Crosby was feeling a little more heat over his playoff drought.
Not so, says Sid the Kid.
?That wasn't something that I kept thinking about,?he said.?I just wanted to generate more and more (chances).?
While Crosby?s scoring woes have been a major storyline of the series thus far, one that has gone a bit unnoticed is the Penguins inability to hold on to a lead.
The Penguins led at some point in all three of their losses to the Habs.
In Game 2 it was only a first period lead, in Game 4 the Penguins led 2-1 in the third period and Monday night it was a 2-1 lead in the second period.
?It?s been a couple of times in the playoffs that we?ve had a lead and we can't get that two-goal lead, but we have another chance,?said defenceman Kris Letang, whose second period goal gave Pittsburgh it?s 2-1 lead.?It?s not about losing a lead, but I think we change the way we play when we have a lead. We made some turnovers that gave them momentum.?
Crosby, however, disagrees with Letang and feels the Penguins have not been guilty of going into a shell with the lead.
?That's something that can't happen in a Game 7, you can't give up a lead,?he said.?Sometimes you talk about teams giving up leads because they sit back and change their game, but that?s not a result of that at all. We haven't been able to get that extra one, but it?s not because of a lack of effort or changing our game.?
Now the Penguins find themselves in a Game 7 situation, which is not unfamiliar territory for this battle-hardened group. They twice won a seventh game on their way to the Stanley Cup last season, losing Game 6 at home to the Capitals before eliminating them in Washington and winning Games 6 and 7 against Detroit to win the Cup.
But Penguins coach Dan Bylsma doesn't feel his team holds any advantage in that area considering the Canadiens erased a 3-1 series deficit against the Capitals in the first round this year.
?Experience is a good thing to draw upon, and we have that,?he said.?But it's now down to one game. They have experience as well from round one in a similar situation on the road. I'm not going to give any team an upper hand in that regard.?