TORONTO (AP) — The C’s have it: Crosby and Connor, that is.
It didn’t take long for the two captains – Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid – to make their presence felt three days into the NHL’s expanded playoffs.
With each of their teams facing 1-0 deficits, and both to their respective conference’s 12th- and last-seeded opponents no less, Crosby and McDavid provided much-needed sparks to even their best-of-five preliminary round elimination series, which resume Wednesday.
First, it was Crosby giving the Penguins a lift by beating Carey Price on a partial break to open the scoring in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto on Monday night.
A few hours later in the league’s other playoff hub city, Edmonton, Alberta, McDavid put on an eye-popping display – even by his standards – with his first three-goal playoff performance in a 6-3 win over Chicago.
”I’ve seen it for years with Sidney Crosby. I mean, he dictates the work ethic and pace of the game. Last night Connor was the guy to do that for us,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said Tuesday.
”Connor’s not a big ‘Rah-rah’ guy, but he inspires players by how he plays,” he added. ”And last night, he certainly led the way for us, and the rest of our team followed suit.”
In Sid, the Penguins trust, veteran defenseman Kris Letang said.
”When Sid is leading your team, you know you’re in good hands,” Letang said. ”If it was not the case, right now we would be in trouble.”
The Penguins and the Oilers aren’t out of trouble just yet, given how only 15 of 83 NHL teams which lost Game 1 of a best-of-five series have gone on to advance.
Both teams are back in prime-time, with the Penguins facing Montreal (8 p.m. EDT, NBCSN), and Edmonton facing Chicago (10:30, NBCSN), while breathing just a little easier.
”He comes out and he’s flying like that the first couple of shifts, you want to follow right along,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said of McDavid. ”We know he can do that at any given moment. And for him to do that in a huge game like last night, it raises your energy level.”