The showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and host Ottawa Senators Tuesday was essentially a must-win game for the playoff hopes of both sides – particularly Ottawa, who could have pulled into a tie with the Pens with a win at Canadian Tire Centre. But it only took 10 seconds for superstar Sidney Crosby to put Ottawa behind the eight-ball – and another 14 minutes or so to demonstrate why his backhand shot is very probably better than your forehand shot.
The opening faceoff had just taken place in Ottawa when the Sens suffered a defensive breakdown and the Pens broke in on a 3-on-2; Pittsburgh winger Patric Hornqvist passed No. 87 the puck, and Crosby proceeded to blast a slapshot through the legs of Ottawa goalie Andrew Hammond to give the Penguins a 1-0 advantage:
However, Crosby wasn't done asserting his influence on the game – or for that matter, on the first period: with roughly five minutes remaining before the intermission and the score 2-0 for the visitors, Pittsburgh's captain fired a slap-backhand shot – yes, you read that correctly – from the top of the circle that hit Hammond in the shoulder; the rebound came to Hornqvist, who scored to make it 3-0 Pens:
For all the ill-founded complaints about Crosby this season, he's still one of the very few NHL stars you can put on the ice knowing they step up and deliver when the pressure is on.