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Sidney Crosby

Canada Day July 1 – 2014

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We salute our Country and who is more Canadian than Sid the Kid !!!

It is Canada Day today. 147 years since Confederation.

It is the final Canada Day Celebration for one of my guys. Kind of bittersweet, but it is what it is. It was another SCORCHER of a day today. We are sitting at a balmy 27c with a humidex of 34c. And not a cloud in the sky for miles.

We could really use some cooling rain tonight.

My little a.c. unit in the bedroom is chugging away, trying all it can to do its job, but with the heating of the day, We get sun on our side of the building from noon until sunset, the concrete building roasts in the sun, the living room usually sits ten degrees warmer than the bedroom. UGH …

It was moving day, but there were few people taking part from our building recently. It seemed everyone took the advice to stay where they were unless it was imperative or necessary for them to move.

I traveled underground so I did not spy mounds of furniture on the sidewalks. But the scavengers were out in force today. I am sure on tonight’s news we will find out how many pets have been boarded or left on the streets again this year.

It was also the Canada Day Parade down Ste. Catherine’s Street. I could hear the drums from my bed, but I was not in any mood to get up and go watch. With the Sports Bar on the corner, and an open grocery store, it was most likely a very full liquor event.

I set off early because the Metro was on Holiday hours, and I expected a long wait for a train, which wasn’t the case at all. And I made all my connections in good time both outbound and on the return.

It was a small gathering. We got to meet new folks, and even got to exchange numbers with him. That was a good sign. We changed up the topic, since the chair was a no show.

We talked about “Changing Old Routines” from Living Sober.

The Big Book says that

“The only thing we need to change when we get sober is EVERYTHING!!!”

Getting sober is a spectator sport.

Spend enough time in the same city, around the same meetings, and watch the same people year in and year out, you get to practice everything that was good and avoid everything that was bad. Getting sober in “community” offers plenty of work/study.

There are a few members who have been through the ringer over the past 13 or so years for me. I’ve watched them, and I’ve listened to them speak over the years, and they have been my greatest teachers of what To Do and what Not To Do.

When it came to university, when I started in 2003, I listened to gripes and grievances from students about administrations and about their studies.

Most people who have graduated from higher education, went nowhere. Not many professional students got jobs they could depend on, and many of them drank over that. Some of my peers went on to graduate degrees, and Master’s Programs, only to fizzle out and drink as well. Success was right on the cusp of happening.

But alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful.

And for some, they don’t need an excuse to drink. For some, the urge came, and the next thing they knew, they had drunk.

And the book says … We are defenseless against the first drink !

Shit happened. I hate that my friends are suffering. I don’t understand how I skated through all this time, and I have not picked up a drink. Yet, my friends, who I have known for all these years, have gotten stuck in the revolving door.

Every person in the room has a story to tell. And if you miss listening to those stories, and you find yourself staring down the drink, there are options. Obviously, I have done something right, whether there is a right or a wrong way to stay sober.

I don’t want to drink. And that is a one day at a time effort. I formed my routines when I moved here. I met some of the right people, and some of the wrong people. But I stayed the course. I have been present for thousands of meetings over the years, and watched my friends get sober, and then get drunk.

People would rather choke than ask for help. And that is a HUGE problem.

And if I sit in the group as I did tonight, and tout the rewards of my sobriety, that would be like punching my friends in the face for no reason. I could not bring myself to talk like that in front of men I respect. We all have our demons. I am sad for my friends, I can’t force what I know on anyone. But in the same breath, I can safely say that because of those revolving door friends, I have stayed sober.

And I am just one of them, in the end. Because it isn’t all about me or my ego.

Humility and ego deflation is the name of the game.

To drink is death for many, and the options are clearly mandated.

Change your routines.
Get thee to a meeting.
Don’t isolate.
Find a sponsor, AND call that sponsor.
Get into the book.
Talk to others,
Reach out your hand and ask for help.

I can’t get anyone sober. I can point in that general direction and tell you how I have stayed sober. I must believe that almost thirteen years of sobriety has taught me something about sobriety.

Our newbies are struggling. What are the Steps and how do I do them? We have been working with them as much as we can, but beyond, “take it easy” and “one day at a time” isn’t working for them. At least they are showing up.

I can’t tell you how much better my life is living above the Northern Border.

Canada has been everything I had hoped and a lot more. I don’t know where I would be had I not made that fateful decision almost 13 years ago.

There is a steep learning curve to learning how to live life when you are raised in a different country and come here fresh. There is so much to learn. And it has been an exciting thirteen years.

That is my snapshot of the day as it was.

More to come, stay tuned …


Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #14

By Eric Duhatschek, The Globe and Mail

He waited until the final moment – with Canada teetering on the brink of a national panic attack – before Sidney Crosby put his mark on this game, this gold medal, this emerging legacy.

Timing as they say is everything.

In a game for the ages, it was Crosby – the leader of Canada’s Generation Next – who scored the golden goal 7:40 into overtime, leading Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team to a thrill-a-minute 3-2 victory over their arch rivals from the United States.

Crosby, who was 14 and watching Canada’s 2002 Olympic championships on television, played give-and-go with one of the key players on that team, Jarome Iginla, to score the winning goal and salvage a game that was hanging in the balance.

On the play, Crosby gave the puck to Iginla deep in the U.S. zone and then drove hard to the net. Iginla – with U.S. defenceman Ryan Suter draped across his back – heard Crosby call out ‘Iggy’ and passed it back. Crosby shot the puck without looking. Magically, it found its way between the pads of goaltender Ryan Miller, ending the tense drama and sending the capacity crowd at Canada Hockey Place into paroxysms of joy.

Afterwards, Crosby said he didn’t even see the puck enter the net. He only knew it was in when he heard the crowd roar.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Crosby. “To have a chance to score in overtime, here in Canada, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Crosby had had a relatively quiet tournament by his standards, fitting in nicely as a piece of the puzzle on a team that relied on balanced scoring, mostly from its emerging young nucleus. It was fitting therefore that Crosby saved the best for last.

“Guys like that find a way,” said defenceman Chris Pronger.

It was Canada’s eighth Olympic gold medal overall in men’s hockey and they became the first to win on home ice since the U.S. did it in 1980’s ‘Miracle On Ice.’

Crosby was one of a handful of players who had a chance to put the game away in regulation. Canada nursed a 2-1 lead into the final minute of play; prior to that, Crosby had been denied on a breakaway with about three minutes to go and both Pronger and Shea Weber hit the post early in the third period.

Normally, in the rhythm of any hockey game, too many missed chances at one end translate into a goal at the other – and yesterday was no exception. With 25 seconds remaining in regulation; Canada getting set for a celebration; and goaltender Ryan Miller on the bench for a sixth attacker, the U.S. tied the game on a goal by Zach Parise. The sequence was potentially heart-breaking: Patrick Kane’s shot deflected off Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate right to Parise, who skated across the front of the goal crease and tucked a shot past goaltender Roberto Luongo.

To be so close to the championship – and then needing to return for four-on-four overtime – was just the final test in what had been a pressure-packed two weeks for the Canadian team. Thanks to Crosby, they survived.

According to centre Ryan Getzlaf, there wasn’t a lot said in the Canadian dressing room during the 15-minute intermission.

“Our guys did a great job – the leaders we have in that room – of staying poised and getting it done in the end,” said Getzlaf, who almost missed the Olympics because of an ankle injury suffered the week before the Games started. In the end, Getzlaf proved to be one of Canada’s most important contributors, setting up the second goal – by Corey Perry – that for the longest time looked as if it would be the game winner.

“I knew that Canada had a very good chance of winning the gold medal,” said Getzlaf, “and I wanted to be part of it. I was fortunate enough that the hockey gods blessed me to get that foot better and be back for the tournament.”

Getzlaf played with Crosby on Canada’s 2005 world junior hockey championship team.

“That’s Sid for you,” said Getzlaf. “There’s a reason he’s the best player in the world. He always shows up in those big moments and scores those big goals.”

It was a wonderfully played game on many levels – close-and-tight checking to start, with strong goaltending at both ends throughout. The nerves and what players like to call the “compete” level were at a fever pitch throughout. There was a moment when the cameras caught Iginla smiling on the bench after a particularly hard shift, talking to Crosby. Could it really have been fun too?

“We’d been talking together all tournament as a line – and communicating with each other,” said Iginla. On the winning goal, according to Iginla, Crosby “was yelling pretty urgently. There are different pitches of yells; this was loud.

“Sid, he just keeps going. He could have scored on that breakaway in regulation, but he’s a positive guy, and it was awesome to see it go in.”

A sentiment that was seconded all across Canada Sunday.


Team Canada caps Golden Games with a thrilling overtime win over the United States

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Canada has capped the Golden Games with the medal that matters, beating the United States 3-2 in an Olympic hockey overtime thriller at Canada Hockey Place.

Sidney Crosby scored on a low shot through Ryan Miller‘s legs seven minutes 40 seconds into overtime to decide the last medal of the Vancouver Olympics.

“I just shot it,” he told CTV. “I didn’t really see it to be honest.”

It’s Canada’s 14th gold of the Vancouver Games, breaking the record for most gold medals at a Winter Olympics. The Soviet Union, in 1976, and Norway, in 2002, each won 13.

Zach Parise sent the game into overtime, stuffing in a rebound from in-close off a Patrick Kane shot with just 24.4 seconds left and Miller on the bench.

That forced a 20-minute sudden-death overtime, played four-on-four.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry scored for Canada in the first and second period, respectively. Miller stood tall the rest of the game in the U.S. net.

Ryan Kesler cut the margin to 2-1 in the second period, deflecting a shot past Roberto Luongo.

The gold was Canada’s eighth in men’s hockey at the Games — and the first since Team Canada defeated the host U.S. 5-2 at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The Canadian women’s team won hockey gold Thursday, defeating the U.S. 2-0.

A wild end to regulation time saw Miller pulled with an extra attacker with 1:30 left to play.

Parise, the Americans’ best forward in the tournament, tied the game and forced OT as Kane’s shot went off Jamie Langenbrunner‘s skate to the front of the net where Parise slipped it past Luongo.

Toews and Perry spotted Canada a 2-0 lead before Kesler scored on a deflection in the second period for the U.S.

The packed stands at Canada Hockey Place were like a giant party for flag- and sign-waving revellers dressed in Canadian red and white.

The Canadian men did it in a game that outmatched even a Stanley Cup final in pace and ferocity, as thundering hits were made on both sides and the NHL referees mostly kept their whistles in their pockets and let them battle.

As in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Canada took gold in both men’s and women’s hockey — this time in the first Olympic tournament held on the smaller NHL-size ice surface.

The Canadian team looked to be in trouble after losing 5-3 to the U.S. in their final preliminary round game a week earlier.

But as they did in Salt Lake, they improved with each game and found the cohesion and intensity to claw their way into the final and a chance to avenge the loss to the fast but less skilled Americans and their quick-legged Miller, who took a 1.04 goals-against average into the final.

The U.S. win in round-robin play forced Canada to play an extra elimination round game. Even though that was an easy 8-2 win over German, the sense was that the youthful American team would be fresher in the third period of the final and they were.

But in a wild third, Canada’s Shea Weber and Chris Pronger hit goalposts in the first two minutes, Dany Heatley just failed to lift a puck over sprawled Miller 10 minutes in, and Crosby, held without a point in the final three games, lost the handle on the puck on a late breakaway thanks to determined backchecking from Kane.

At the other end, Luongo held his ground and the defence kept shooters out of the goal area in a bid to preserve the win.

The opening minutes of the game saw heavy hitting from both sides, particularly U.S. defenceman Brooks Orpik who nearly put Heatley into the players bench, but Canada did not allow the Americans to establish pressure in their zone.

Toews connected 12:50 into the game as the Chicago centre and Mike Richards combined to win battles for the puck near the net against Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny and Richards pushed it to Toews for high shot from in close.

It was the first of the tournament for perhaps Canada’s most consistent forward and marked the first time the U.S. had trailed in a game.

Canada had just completed its first penalty kill when Ryan Getzlaf skated into the U.S. and zone and saw his pass go off Ryan Whitney‘s skate to Perry alone in front for a quick shot and his fourth goal at 8:25.

Just as the flag and sign-waving crowd began to party in the seats, the U.S. struck back as Kane snapped a shot that went off the shaft of Kesler’s stick and trickled through Luongo’s equipment at 12:44.

Between periods, Kesler told a TV interviewer he felt his Vancouver teammate Luongo was fighting the puck, as he had in previous games.

Canada became the first country to win hockey gold on home ice since the American Miracle On Ice team from the 1980 Games in Lake Placid.

It was a first loss at these Games for the Americans. The last hockey team to go undefeated at the Olympics was the Soviet Union, which was 5-0 in Calgary in 1988.

Both referees Bill McCreary and Dan O’Halloran, as well as linesman Jean Morin are Canadian. The other linesman was Stefan Fonselius of Finland.

The full house was also packed with celebrities, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, singers Neil Young and Bryan Adams, actors William Shatner and Vince Vaughn, and from the sports world, golfer Mike Weir and hockey greats Gordie Howe and Mark Messier.

Notes— It was the 17th meeting between Canada and the U.S. in Olympic history. Canada leads the series (10-3-3)… Coach Mike Babcock wore his lucky McGill University tie for the game. He is (5-2) all-time with the tie, with both losses in overtime… In the pre-game warmup, Crosby stopped to tie a skate lace and his former Pittsburgh teammate, American Ryan Malone, slid a couple pucks toward him to try to hit his gloves on the ice. Malone smiled, Crosby didn’t react.


CANADA WINS GOLD !!! Sudden Death Overtime Crosby for the WIN !!!! Canada 3 U.S.A. 2 … Canadian Gold Medalist(s) #14

By Jamie Bell, CTVOlympics.ca

Canada is once again on top of the hockey world as they have defeated the United States 3-2 in overtime in the gold medal game at the Olympic hockey tournament.

Sidney Crosby was the overtime hero as he beat Ryan Miller mid-way through the extra-frame.

While Roberto Luongo was criticized prior to the tournament for his lack of big game experience, he has likely silenced those doubters as he made 34 saves in the victory.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry also scored for Canada, while Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise responded for the United States.

The win secures Canada’s 14th gold medal at the Games, setting an all-time Olympic record.

Along with the gold medal, Canada was also able to regain bragging rights on continental supremacy after the Americans beat Team Canada 5-3 earlier in the tournament.

It is a jam packed house at Canada Hockey Place that was littered with Canadian-born celebrities like Neil Young, Michael J. Fox, Bryan Adams, William Shatner and Prime Minister Stephen Harper sporting his Canada jersey.

They were treated to a fast-paced and hard-hitting encounter between a pair of rivals who know each other very well.

Canada drew first blood as Mike Richards separated Erik Johnson from the puck with a strong forechecking effort. Ryan Miller kicked out Richards shot but Jonathan Toews was there to bury the rebound for his first of the tournament to send a packed house at Canada Hockey Place into a frenzy.

The bad blood nearly boiled over at the end of the period as Jack Johnson drilled Corey Perry into the boards after the final buzzer. Ryan Getzlaf did not like that one bit as he went back at Johnson. The referees had to break up a skirmish as both teams headed to the dressing room with Canada holding a one-goal advantage.

Perry got his revenge on the scoreboard as adding to Canada’s lead in the second period. After killing off a penalty to Eric Staal, Canada went on the attack as Getzlaf lofted a backhander at the American net. Miller kicked out a rebound directly into the path of Perry who hammered home his fourth goal of the tournament, giving Canada a two-goal advantage.

That would be short-lived as the Americans were able to respond late in the period thanks to the quick hands of Kesler in front as he tipped Patrick Kane’s shot past his Vancouver Canucks’ teammate Luongo to pull the United States within a goal.

With all the momentum behind them, the Americans buzzed around Luongo’s net with Ryan Suter coming close to equalizing with a backhanded effort that just trickled wide.

Canada came out flying in the final frame, nearly adding to their lead with less than a minute in as both Shea Weber and Chris Pronger drives beat Miller but found iron instead of glory.

The Canadians continued to heap on the offensive pressure as Dany Heatley had a great chance to give Canada a two-goal lead, but was denied twice by Miller at the side of the net.

Sidney Crosby had a great opportunity to salt this one away with just over three minutes remaining as he was sprung on a break. Miller was equal to the task once again to keep his team in this one.

With just over a minute remaining, American head coach Ron Wilson called a time-out to rally his troops and pull Miller from the net.

The gambit paid off as Parise was able to beat Luongo to silence the crowd and send this epic encounter to overtime.
Canada had the better chances in overtime, but once again Ryan Miller has continued his stellar play, robbing Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash on great scoring opportunities.

But Miller’s luck ran out as Crosby was able to shovel home his fourth of the tournament to secure the victory and give the country the golden moment they had been waiting for.


Sidney Crosby – Team Canada …


Sid the Kid Crosby and the Stanley Cup

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DETROIT – JUNE 12: Sidney Crosby(notes) #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


Penguins clip Wings to claim Stanley Cup

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Stanley Cup Penguins Red Wings Hockey

Stanley Cup Penguins Red Wings Hockey

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Images: Courtesy of Getty Images and Yahoo Sports

Even without the late-game services of captain Sidney Cosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins stood tall in winning the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history.

Centre Maxime Talbot scored both goals, sending the Penguins to a 2-1 win over former champion Detroit Red Wings during Game 7 Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Pittsburgh secures the franchise’s first championship since the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins of 1991 and 1992.

The Penguins also become the first road team since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens to begin a Stanley Cup final 0-2 yet still win it all in the seventh and deciding game away from home.


The Trophy Voodoo: You can’t touch this, or can you?

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Much has been written since Tuesday night when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby(notes) went against all that the hockey gods teach us and decided to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy, later carrying it off the RBC Center ice.

Crosby’s reason for breaking tradition? He left it alone a year ago and things didn’t work out quite as planned.

One could say the “to touch/not to touch” debate is all hooey, especially since Detroit Red Wings captain Niklas Lidstrom left the Clarence Campbell Bowl alone after the Western Conference champions advanced to last year’s Stanley Cup finals — and that ended fairly successfully for Detroit.

It’s all a matter of superstition, something for which NHL players are famously known.

The Toronto Star’s Damian Cox? Not a fan of such superstitions:

Well, thank goodness for Sidney Crosby.

The Kid ended (hopefully) one of the truly moronic semi-traditions in hockey Tuesday night after the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Eastern Conference crown by sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes.

In recent years, team after team had declined even to touch the trophies for winning the Eastern or Western Conference, with the silly excuse being “that wasn’t the trophy they wanted” in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Even Crosby bought into it last year when the Pens won the east. But Tuesday night, he gratefully accepted the Prince of Wales Trophy from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, then carried it away into the arms of his joyous teammates.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Cox also doesn’t believe in avoiding the logo on the floor of team lockers rooms, too.

Last night, subbing for injured captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg(notes) went with what worked for the Red Wings last season and kept his paws off the Campbell Bowl. Unlike Crosby and the Penguins, not touching the trophy worked for the Red Wings, so why bother with tradition?

Over at PensBurgh, Hooks Orpik believes that trophy presentations are a reason to celebrate a season’s accomplishments:

First of all, I’m happy the Sidney Crosby picked up the Prince of Wales trophy, posed for a few pictures and nonchalantly skated off the ice.

[…]

And while that’s all well and good, a perfectly fine message to have, the Penguins deserved to have the happy moment to recognize their monumental achievement for such a huge season turnaround.

Digging into their hockey archives, ESPN found four instances since 1991 when a team’s captain lifted their conference trophy and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Mario Lemieux (1991) and Scott Stevens (2000, 2003) both bucked tradition and left fingerprints on the Prince of Wales trophy. In 1997, Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman had no fear and lifted the Clarence Campbell Bowl and a week later was celebrating a Stanley Cup victory.

So, like many hockey superstitions and traditions, they may not make any sense to some fans or writers; but to the players, they’re an important part of the hockey culture.

Whether it’s tossing your cookies before a game, growing facial hair between the months of April and June, or becoming bosom buddies with the goal posts, these superstitions are one of the things that make hockey as unique as it is.


The Trophy Voodoo: You can't touch this, or can you?

ept_sports_nhl_experts-751751176-1243490579

Much has been written since Tuesday night when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby(notes) went against all that the hockey gods teach us and decided to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy, later carrying it off the RBC Center ice.

Crosby’s reason for breaking tradition? He left it alone a year ago and things didn’t work out quite as planned.

One could say the “to touch/not to touch” debate is all hooey, especially since Detroit Red Wings captain Niklas Lidstrom left the Clarence Campbell Bowl alone after the Western Conference champions advanced to last year’s Stanley Cup finals — and that ended fairly successfully for Detroit.

It’s all a matter of superstition, something for which NHL players are famously known.

The Toronto Star’s Damian Cox? Not a fan of such superstitions:

Well, thank goodness for Sidney Crosby.

The Kid ended (hopefully) one of the truly moronic semi-traditions in hockey Tuesday night after the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Eastern Conference crown by sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes.

In recent years, team after team had declined even to touch the trophies for winning the Eastern or Western Conference, with the silly excuse being “that wasn’t the trophy they wanted” in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Even Crosby bought into it last year when the Pens won the east. But Tuesday night, he gratefully accepted the Prince of Wales Trophy from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, then carried it away into the arms of his joyous teammates.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Cox also doesn’t believe in avoiding the logo on the floor of team lockers rooms, too.

Last night, subbing for injured captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg(notes) went with what worked for the Red Wings last season and kept his paws off the Campbell Bowl. Unlike Crosby and the Penguins, not touching the trophy worked for the Red Wings, so why bother with tradition?

Over at PensBurgh, Hooks Orpik believes that trophy presentations are a reason to celebrate a season’s accomplishments:

First of all, I’m happy the Sidney Crosby picked up the Prince of Wales trophy, posed for a few pictures and nonchalantly skated off the ice.

[…]

And while that’s all well and good, a perfectly fine message to have, the Penguins deserved to have the happy moment to recognize their monumental achievement for such a huge season turnaround.

Digging into their hockey archives, ESPN found four instances since 1991 when a team’s captain lifted their conference trophy and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Mario Lemieux (1991) and Scott Stevens (2000, 2003) both bucked tradition and left fingerprints on the Prince of Wales trophy. In 1997, Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman had no fear and lifted the Clarence Campbell Bowl and a week later was celebrating a Stanley Cup victory.

So, like many hockey superstitions and traditions, they may not make any sense to some fans or writers; but to the players, they’re an important part of the hockey culture.

Whether it’s tossing your cookies before a game, growing facial hair between the months of April and June, or becoming bosom buddies with the goal posts, these superstitions are one of the things that make hockey as unique as it is.


Ovechkin, Capitals take round 1 of superstar showdown

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CBC.CA Online

The NHL’s marquee series lived up to its billing in Game 1 on Saturday as the Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in the opening game of their best-of-seven semifinal.

Tomas Fleischmann scored the game-winner early in the third period and the Capitals held on for the win.

Fleischmann fired home the go-ahead-goal at 1:46 of the frame on a pass from Nicklas Backstrom on a 2-on-1 down low.

Rookie Washington goaltender Simeon Varlamov was outstanding, stopping 34 of 36 shots, including a spectacular save on Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby with the game tied 2-2 late in the second period.

On a 2-on-1, forward Chris Kunitz slid the puck across to the Penguins captain, but Varlamov made a diving stop with his stick on the goal-line to rob him.

“Those type of opportunities, you don’t want to waste them,” Crosby said. “You have an open net like that, you want to take advantage of it. We ended up losing the game 3-2 so you look back and say ‘What if?’ But as a player you have to forget quickly.”

Alex Ovechkin and Dave Steckel scored the other goals for the Capitals. Both Backstrom and Alexander Semin had two assists in the win.

“[The Penguins] are what we thought they were,” Washington forward Brooks Laich told Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman. “They’re a very good hockey team. There were times tonight where they had us on the run, and our goalie made some big saves.

“It’s going to be a heck of a series.”

Crosby and Mark Eaton scored the Pittsburgh goals.

Lived up to billing

The game lived up to its billing from start to finish as the chances were fairly even. Both goalies had to make big saves to keep the teams close.

Crosby and Ovechkin looked ready to play from the opening puck-drop and featured in the majority of the scoring chances.

But someone who didn’t was Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin. He had an assist but was minus-1 for the game.

Another disappointment for the visiting side was the ineffectiveness of their power play. Three chances to score — including a couple of big power plays in the third while down 3-2 — went by the wayside.

The Capitals, meanwhile, had only two power plays, but they were fortunate to have them occur near each other and scored on the two-man advantage.

“Both teams have skilled guys, so on a two-man advantage you have to score,” said Ovechkin.

Pittsburgh outshot Washington 36-26, with most of that advantage coming in the third with the Penguins pressing for the equalizer, as they held a 13-6 advantage in the frame.

Game 2 is set for Monday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).

Pittsburgh opened the scoring early, and it was the captain who got the team rolling.

Crosby fired a bullet on the rush that went over goalie Varlamov’s glove to make it 1-0 Penguins at 4:09 of the first.

That quieted the Verizon Center crowd for a while, but they had reason to erupt at 13:50 of the frame.

Washington forward Steckel scored after he snuck in behind three Penguins on the rush, as they all went to cover puck-carrier Matt Bradley, who slid the disc over to the wide-open Steckel and he scored his first of the playoffs.

And that’s when Ovechkin and Semin got in on the action.

On a two-man advantage, Semin faked a slapshot that fooled everyone in the building — except Ovechkin, who received a perfect pass from Semin at the side of the net and fired it into an open cage for his fourth of the playoffs at 17:03 of the first. That put the Capitals up 2-1.

Pittsburgh’s Eaton scored at 12:54 to tie the game 2-2 on a weak unscreened point shot that went right through Varlamov’s glove. But the rookie Washington goaltender more than redeemed himself in the waning minutes of the second with his diving save on Crosby.