Crosby’s game-winning goal against Isles is beautiful for both the offense and defense involved

Some people will only see the flashy end to the game-winning goal Sidney Crosby scored Tuesday against the Islanders. But look closer. It’s his defense that makes the end result possible.

It’s tough to believe Sidney Crosby has as many detractors as he does. His mannerisms may not be your cup of tea, but when Crosby makes incredible plays look routine – as he did in scoring the overtime goal in a 3-2 Pens win over the Isles – year after year, if you don’t give him his due, you’re a due-hoarder and I’m here to tell you it’s unhealthy.

But here’s what makes Crosby’s game-winner so beautiful to hockey people at the NHL level: the hardworking start of the play, not the spectacular end to it.

Many, if not most people will focus on the Pittsburgh superstar splitting through two Islanders and batting around a bouncing puck through goalie Anders Nilsson to end a game the Isles had led 2-0 for nearly 40 minutes. However, look closely at the beginning of the play:

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Did you notice Crosby backchecking like a maniac as the Isles were attempting to break out of their zone? Did you see No. 87 strip Thomas Vanek of the puck before reversing course and pushing the puck past Nilsson? Because you’d better believe every NHL scout and GM watching that game saw it and envied it.

Crosby’s prowess at both ends of the ice is nothing new. But that’s the impressive part: he’s been doing it for so long now, it feels normal to see another highlight added to his reel.

That’s untrue. It’s not normal, what he does out there. It is impressive, and so is Crosby.

Get over yourselves, Crosbyphobes.