Crosby nets first point in loss to Devils

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby

10/5/2005 9:27:29 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CP) - Sidney Crosby's NHL debut was bittersweet.

The 18-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins forward had an assist, but the New Jersey Devils spoiled Crosby's highly anticipated first game with a convincing 5-1 win to open the 2005-06 season.

Crosby set up Pittsburgh's first goal of the season, and their lone goal of the game, at 5:36 of the third period. He stepped out from the corner and feathered the puck along the goal-line to Mark Recchi, who tucked it past the outstretched pad of Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur for a power-play goal.

"It's nice to get a point. I don't want to look past that," Crosby said. "But you play to win every time you go out on the ice and we didn't get that done, so I don't know."

Crosby helped solve the Penguins' woes with a man advantage - Pittsburgh had gone 0-for-9 until that point - and wreck Brodeur's shutout bid.


But Brodeur began the game by stealing the thunder from Crosby's coming-out party. The decorated goaltender held the fort in the opening 10 minutes while the Pens outshot the Devils 14-2.

New Jersey then scored four unanswered goals, including two by Brian Gionta, before Recchi converted.

Crosby got a backhand shot away on Brodeur on his first shift of the game and showed off some of his offensive flare with some smart passes.

But Brodeur is arguably the best goaltender in the game and he wasn't giving up anything to Crosby or any of Pittsburgh's other snipers, including Mario Lemieux.

Crosby will have to wait to score his first NHL goal. The Penguins are in Carolina on Friday to face the Hurricanes before their home-opener Saturday against Boston.

Crosby had three shots on goal during his 15 minutes, 50 seconds of ice time. He was disappointed to learn he won only three of 10 faceoffs in the first two periods.

"That's not very good," Crosby said. "I have to get better at that, no doubt. You need control, especially at this level. Puck possession is so huge."

Crosby drew a hooking penalty from Devils rookie forward Zach Parise in the second period.

The five-foot-11, 193-pound forward was on the ice for New Jersey's first goal of the game, scored by Sergei Brylin at 16:55 of the first period. He played more cautiously after that, not wanting to shirk his defensive duties, until finding Recchi open beside Brodeur. He was on the ice for both of Brylin's goals which put him at minus-2 for the night.

"I think the one thing I stayed on him was not trying to overpass and I thought tonight maybe a couple times he could have got rid of the puck a little quicker whether it be a shot or a pass," Penguins head coach Eddie Olczyk said. "As far as the way Sid played, he made a great pass to Recchi.

"He's a player we're going to count on heavily not only in Carolina on Friday night, but in the future."

Crosby's regular linemates are Recchi and John Leclair, but it wasn't long before Crosby and Lemieux, who turned 40 on Wednesday, were on the ice together as the Penguins' power-play was activated early and often.

The Devils took three hooking penalties in the first four minutes 42 seconds followed by a bench minor for too many men.

At the end of the Pens' third man-advantage Crosby attempted to send a pass from behind the goal-line out to Lemieux in front of the net, but that play was broken up.

Crosby and Lemieux were also out together even strength in the final seconds of the second period. The Penguins were looking to get on the scoreboard after falling behind 3-0 in front of 18,101 spectators and over 200 accredited media at the Continental Airlines Arena, which holds 19,040 for hockey games.

Crosby's parents, Troy and Trina from Cole Harbour, N.S., attended the game.

Their son's best chance to score came a minute and a half in and on his first shift as he stepped out from the corner and tried to put a backhand high over Brodeur.

"We have to give him a few games to get a feel for the NHL, but I thought he made some good plays and was trying to feel his way around," Lemieux said. "This is a big step for him. It's not going to be easy at first, but I thought he skated well and he didn't look out of place at all."

The Devils' Parise had the biggest impact of the rookies on the ice as the 21-year-old scored his first NHL goal on a power play with 35 seconds remaining in the opening period and he also assisted on Gionta's second goal.

Parise and Crosby last played against each other at the 2004 world junior hockey championships, in which the U.S. beat Canada in the final and Parise was named MVP of the tournament.

Brylin's second goal of the game was awarded after video review at 13:02 of the third period and made it 5-1 for the Devils.

Brodeur stopped 36 of 37 shots for the win while Penguins goaltender Jocelyn Thibault made 32 saves on 37 shots.

More spectators clustered around the Penguins' entrance to the ice than the Devils' at the beginning of the warmup and many of them were snapping pictures of both Crosby and Lemieux with cameras and cellphones.

Notes - New Jersey's power-play was 2-for-8 while Pittsburgh went 0-for-11 . . . Crosby is living with Lemieux's family in Pittsburgh and said earlier Wednesday he hadn't bought his host a birthday gift yet. "He's a little busy today, so I'll let it slide," Lemieux said . . . There were 19 minor penalties called under the NHL's crackdown on obstruction and interference . . . The game took two hours 15 minutes to play.

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