When asked if that invites opponents to make contact with his head, Crosby replied: “How many times have I done it? Once. A guy runs the goalie three times . . . I don’t think I’m known for that. It was an elbow, but I think he’s blown it totally out of proportion. Two nights before that, I go in a scrum and I get punched in the head. I accept that. I’m going into a scrum. That’s part of playing the game. If he’s going to run the goalie, he’s got to expect that guys are going to get their hands in his face especially around that area. So, that’s totally different from putting an elbow in a guy’s face coming across the middle. They’re totally different circumstances. He’s known for being a chippy player and trying to be an agitator and that’s what comes with the territory if you’re going to play that way. You’ve got to expect guys to do that, so, to answer your question, no, I’m not worried about it because I don’t usually do that.”
On the whole, Crosby would probably be happier to talk about more pleasant things, like his play on Saturday, which saw him net an assist.
So let’s see, eight points from four games with 58 to play - at this rate Crosby will score a career-high 124 this season.
He’ll also likely reel in the likes of Phil Kessel and Claude Giroux atop the NHL scoring chart around the time in the New Year where people are still writing 2011 on their cheques.
Add to that that the Pittsburgh Penguins have now won three of the games he’s played since his return, and it’s probably not too soon to start speculating about whether the Pens might still be playing hockey when next June rolls around.
Then you have the Habs, who have now lost four of their last six, are once again left to wonder how it all went wrong.
And it did go horribly wrong in what was a surly ending to a surly game, although the Pens’ view will be that it was poetic justice.
The winning goal was potted by Letang - who got to a puck that Carey Price believed he’d frozen by his left pad and slid it home.
Price smashed his stick on his net and skated off in disgust as the crowd roared its disapproval with the referee’s decision not to whistle the play dead.
Afterward, Price was incandescent with rage, dropping a few expletives.
“I clearly had my hand over the puck. Clearly,” he said. “It’s tough, we worked our asses off for 65 minutes and it ends like that.”
Asked when the last time was he was that angry on the ice: “I’m pissed. It’s been a long time, especially because we worked so hard for it, and then we go and have it shoved in your face like that, it’s really frustrating.”
“It was underneath my pad, I put my glove on it, and suddenly a stick came in and rammed at it, and it came right out into the slot,” he said.
Crosby had 26 points in 19 previous career games against Montreal, but just a single assist in his last four games in Montreal and only four points to show from his last seven visits to the Bell Centre.
He duly added to that total in the opening seconds of the game, but this was a game that Montreal had well in hand, leading 3-1 late in the second period, and despite some strong play from number 87 in black, it was there for the Habs’ taking.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring on the opening shift of the game when Crosby’s astute pass sprung Chris Kunitz, the puck eventually came to Evgeni Malkin, who tucked it past Carey Price.
That was 21 seconds into the game.
The Habs came close to tying the game within seconds, with Erik Cole’s one-timer drawing a good save out of Marc-Andre Fleury.