‘Scary’ pairing of Crosby, Ovechkin helps Metropolitan Division win NHL All-Star Game

  • Tue Jan 31st, 2017 12:28am
  • Sports

LOS ANGELES — When Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck was almost at a loss for words describing what it’s like facing Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin on the same line, as he had to do in the first semifinal of the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at Staples Center, he only had one answer.

“It’s scary,” he said, then paused.

The concept of putting two of the best offensive players in the world next to each other — especially in a 3-on-3 format — is certainly exciting, even if the results were decidedly mixed.

Crosby and Ovechkin teamed up for two goals in the Metropolitan Division’s 10-6 semifinal win against Trocheck and the Atlantic team.

In the final, though, they combined for just one shot (from Crosby) and had a minus-2 rating. Even still, their Metropolitan team won the final, 4-3, over the Pacific Division and took home the $1 million prize.

“It was fun,” Ovechkin said. “I think we had some pretty good chances.”

The two played together previously at the 2007 All-Star Game in Dallas, but Crosby hasn’t participated in one since then. When making his lineup Sunday morning, though, Metropolitan coach Wayne Gretzky didn’t hesitate to give the fans what they wanted.

Crosby and Ovechkin were effective in their high-scoring semifinal against the Atlantic, with Crosby just missing a couple of open nets. He scored the Metropolitan Division’s seventh goal of the game, and Ovechkin picked up a secondary assist.

Crosby returned the favor and assisted Ovechkin on their team’s 10th and final goal of the game.

Even if the second game didn’t go as well, Crosby said he appreciated playing with his longtime rival.

“He’s into it,” Crosby said. “You don’t have to remind him to be competitive or go out there and try extra hard. He wants to win. I think just seeing that enthusiasm, you see what makes him so good.”

Ovechkin was asked after the game if he and Crosby were buddies now.

“Best friends,” he said.

That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration and both players will now flip the switch back to competitive mode as the second half of the NHL schedule gets underway. The Penguins and Capitals won’t meet for the rest of the regular season, but could very well see each other in the playoffs.

The Penguins and Capitals have had some knock-down, drag-out playoff series in the past, and Crosby doesn’t expect he and Ovechkin’s brief time together Sunday to change much in that regard.

“With the rivalry between our teams, I would expect it to be the same,” Crosby said. “I think there’s a mutual respect there. We both want to win, both want to play hard for our team. I think that’s what we expect when we play each other.”

Ovechkin wasn’t the only rival Crosby teamed up with Sunday, either. Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds won the MVP award for the Metropolitan Division and scored the winning goal in the final.

Crosby joked he managed to be happy for a Flyers’ success “just for a brief moment.”

Those two teams do have three games scheduled for the remainder of the regular season, including the Feb. 25 outdoor Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround here,” Crosby said. “We’re going to be playing against them, it’ll be heated and we’ll be in scrums in a few days.

“I think we all share the way we love playing the game, we love being a part of this.

“It was great to see him do well. Things will kind of go back to normal here in a few days, I’m sure.”