Generally in hockey, it's the losing team that looks to get a tussle going in the final seconds, to leave a message for the next meeting. Yet the Flyers being the Flyers, and the Penguins being the Penguins, Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien was asked yesterday if he'd had any second thoughts about having young superstar Sidney Crosby on the ice toward the end of Game 4.
Presumably, that left Crosby exposed to the cruelties of the dastardly home team, as it closed out a 4-2 victory that extended the Eastern Conference final series to tomorow's Game 5 in Pittsburgh.
With 14.2 seconds left, Crosby and the Flyers' Mike Richards went at one another during a faceoff. Each player took roughing and slashing minors.
Therrien said Crosby was out there because a ref had told the Pens' bench, erroneously, that they would be getting a 5-on-3 power play out of the previous scrum. Therrien said he figured with his goalie pulled, he could make it 6-on-3, and scoring two goals in such a short period wouldn't be completely impossible. Of course, there was no 5-on-3 power play, and Crosby didn't exactly seem intent on scoring a goal when the puck dropped.
"I was trying to go forward with the puck," Richards said, when asked about the encounter yesterday. "They had two guys set up far, so I didn't want to win it to that side. My defense, I didn't want them right up against the winger, too, so he could push it forward. So I was just trying to go through with the puck. I think that he was thinking I was trying to slash his ankles, but - whatever."
Richards was asked if he felt he and defenseman Derian Hatcher frustrated Crosby, who was held pointless and charged with five giveaways in just the Penguins' second loss of the postseason.
"I thought we did well as a team shutting them down," Richards said. "I don't think you can frustrate Sid too much. He's such a skilled player, and he's so used to getting picked on, I guess, people going after him physically and verbally. So you're not going to frustrate him too much. But as a group, I thought we did a good job shutting him down."
If Kimmo Timonen returns for Game 5, don't be surprised if it's Jaroslav Modry who sits, instead of Ryan Parent. The 21-year-old rookie moved the puck well and looked solid in Game 4 . . . Guess what's available on shop.com, for $28.99? Your official Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 Eastern Conference Champions locker-room hat. Not that anyone's counting the Flyers out, or anything. *