Bo Horvat had another welcome-to-the-NHL moment on Saturday.
The rookie centre was matched against Sidney Crosby most of the night and also chipped in with his team's second goal as the Vancouver Canucks thumped the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0.
Horvat said he was surprised when head coach Willie Desjardins tasked him with neutralizing one of the league's deadliest snipers, but the 19-year-old delivered, helping to limit the Penguins captain to one shot.
"It was obviously pretty shocking," Horvat said of the assignment. "I was definitely a little nervous before the game, but once we got going and we got playing I seemed to calm down."
Horvat, who demonstrates a defensive awareness beyond his years, said earlier this season it was thrill to line up against Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and facing Crosby was no different.
"You've just got to embrace the role," said Horvat. "Sid's one of the best players in the world, if not the best, so to go against him on some draws and play against him a lot of shifts, it was special."
Ryan Miller made 31 saves, but few difficult ones, for his sixth shutout of the season and the 35th of his career as the Canucks rebounded after a poor effort in a 5-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"I like this one mainly because the attitude we came out with was sustained during the game," said Miller. "It was the right kind of attitude. We wanted to have a response for the last game."
Alexandre Burrows, with a goal and an assist, Shawn Matthias, Zack Kassian and Daniel Sedin had the other goals for Vancouver (29-19-3). Radim Vrbata picked up two assists.
"I thought our guys came with a real good effort," said Desjardins. "It wasn't an effort by 15 guys, it was the whole team."
Thomas Greiss stopped 22 shots for Pittsburgh (30-15-8), which mounted little resistance while playing its third game in four nights.
The Canucks opened the scoring at 7:13 of the first period when Burrows tipped home a Vrbata one-timer on the power play for his 12th of the season. The goal, which marked the first time the Canucks had scored first in the last seven games, snapped an ugly 4-for-46 stretch with the man advantage going back to Jan. 6.
Horvat then made it 2-0 at 10:46 after pouncing on an Evgeni Malkin turnover at the Pittsburgh blue-line. He quickly fed Derek Dorsett, who returned the puck back to Horvat in front for his fifth.
"Just a poor start," said Crosby. "I think you can tell the first 10 minutes, they were desperate, they came out hard and you fall back two goals and (you're) probably guilty of taking some chances when you fall behind that early and it was kind of uphill from there."
The Penguins thought they had gotten back in the game early in the second period, but Derrick Pouliot's shot that hit the post and then Miller was disallowed after it was ruled the net was knocked off before the puck crossed the line.
"I don't think the net being dislodged had any real affect or bearing on the puck," said Crosby. "It's tough, you see that one go either way, but it didn't feel like we were getting any bounces here."
The Canucks, who had a goal of their own disallowed thanks to a quick whistle soon after, doubled their lead before the period was out when Matthias buried his ninth and Kassian tapped in his third in quick succession.
Sedin then made it 5-0 on the power play — his 11th of the season — at 2:05 of the third after a nice feed from Burrows. The goal was the 115th of his career with the man advantage and moved him past former captain Markus Naslund for the all-time franchise mark.
Note: A healthy scratch the last three games, Kassian's goal was his first in 22 games. ... Vrbata's assist on Vancouver's first goal was the 500th point of his career.