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Crosby, Ovechkin stage an epic battle | TribLIVE.com
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Crosby, Ovechkin stage an epic battle

Tricia Lafferty
| Tuesday, May 5, 2009 12:00 a.m

WASHINGTON — Game 2 between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals was like watching a heavyweight fight.

Center Sidney Crosby and left wing Alex Ovechkin went punch for punch — or rather puck for puck.

Viewers weren’t the only ones impressed by the double hat trick. The players skating alongside the superstars during the Capitals’ 4-3 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinal Monday night at Verizon Center seemed to be just as in awe of the show that rivals Crosby and Ovechkin produced.

They weren’t surprised, though, with what two of the best players in the world had just accomplished.

“It’s everything the media made it out to be,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said. “It’s a battle of the two best players in hockey and (Monday night) they both carried their teams.”

No players were campaigning for whose guy was better. They were just admiring how Crosby and Ovechkin went round for round, goal for goal. So far, the duo has combined for eight of the series’ 12 goals.

“How they compete against each other, how they take it personal … I’m just glad our man came out on top,” Capitals center Brooks Laich said. “(Ovechkin is) a fun guy to play with. It just seems like pucks fly off his stick.”

Ovechkin shined brighter last night only because his three goals lifted his team to victory. He scored two third-period goals to give the Capitals a two-goal advantage.

“Sick game,” Ovechkin said. “Sick three goals by me and (Crosby). If I was Capitals fan, I’d be very happy right now.”

Crosby, understandably, was not thinking about his hat trick. He was instead focusing on how his team needs to rebound from an 0-2 start to the series.

“It’s nice to score, but it’s better to win,” Crosby said.

In a matchup that was one of the most hyped second-round playoff series in recent history, Crosby and Ovechkin delivered.

“This time of year, you find out who the real players are,” Laich said. “You find out who wants it. You find out who’s having more fun. When the cameras are on is the moment the stars usually shine.”

Crosby and Ovechkin combined for six goals last night. There were only seven through 60 minutes.

“They apparently heard the hype and are living up to it,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “They’re rising to the occasion.”

Though Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are finalists for the Hart Trophy — awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player — Crosby is proving he’s still right up there with the league’s best.

“Their guy played awesome, too,” Laich said. “He’s the reason they were in the game. It’s awesome to see two guys battle back and forth in the same game.”

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