February 28, 2010
The Pittsburgh Penguins star scored at 67:40 of the Olympic men's hockey final, an overtime game-winner that gave Canada the gold medal in a heart-stopping 3-2 win over the U.S. The crowd chanted "Crosby, Crosby" as the hardware was placed around his neck.
No miracles. Miller Time was over. Canada's game, Canada's gold, thanks to Crosby.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski lost the puck in the Team USA zone, and Jarome Iginla made a backhand pass around Ryan Suter to Crosby, who had beaten Rafalski to the net. Sid the Kid, having his best goal-scoring season in the NHL, beat goalie Ryan Miller (36 saves) for the gold.
"I didn't see it go in the net. I just heard everyone scream," said Crosby.
"I saw [Iginla] get a step on the guy and steal his puck. I just tried to let him know where I was and throw it at the net. He had his back turned toward me. I didn't think he'd know I was there. I just threw it at the net. I wasn't really aiming for anything."
His heroics came after Canada blew a lead late in the third period. Zach Parise's goal for the U.S. made OT necessary. With Miller pulled, Patrick Kane -- who assisted on Ryan Kesler's goal for the USA in the second period -- blasted the puck off of Jamie Langenbrunner's skate. It hit Roberto Luongo, who fought it off, and then it trickled to Parise for the tying goal with 25 seconds left. He slapped his stick on the ice, skated to the glass and was mobbed by his teammates. We'd call it a miracle, but there's nothing miraculous about the Canadian defense allowing two U.S. forwards behind them with less than a minute to go.
Yet, in the end, it's as much a career-defining game for Luongo as it's another legendary moment for Crosby, who won his first Stanley Cup last season.
Luongo, who replaced Martin Brodeur after Canada's earlier loss to the U.S. in the preliminary rounds, was confident in the first period, and then rebounded from a shaky second period to shut down several American chances in the third. He made four saves in overtime. Luongo was there when Canada needed him — and now he's wearing gold in front of a delirious arena.
The Americans win silver, thanks to Miller, who found his zone after getting down 2-0. Both goals were the result of defensive lapses: Erik Johnson turning the puck over to Mike Richards behind the net before Jonathan Toews snapped home a rebound for 1-0; and, in the second, Ryan Whitney failing to clear a Ryan Getzalf pass that deflected to an uncovered Cory Perry for the 2-0 lead.
The U.S. had never trailed in the tournament prior to the Toews goal. Was climbing out of that hole for the first time the difference? "Possibly," said winger Bobby Ryan of Team USA. "It trickled through my mind when they up 2-0. I said 'I hope we don't fall apart at the seams here.' But there really wasn't a doubt that we would. This is a group of guys I'll never forget. We battled right to the bitter end."
No shame in that. A star made a play. And Canada achieves its destiny, winning gold on home ice in men's and women's hockey. They own the puck podium.