EDMONTON, Alberta – There’s just a different kind of energy in the air on the rare occasions when Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid share a sheet of ice.
Rogers Place was buzzing Wednesday when Crosby and McDavid, arguably the two greatest players of this century, went rush for rush late in the first period.
The crowd rose to its feet when McDavid cruised down the ice but couldn’t blow by Brian Dumoulin. Crosby, sensing an opportunity to one-up the kid who came for his throne, tried to dance between a pair of defenders at the other end.
“Loving to compete, the part that you enjoy about the game is the challenges every night. Obviously, he’s one of the biggest,” Crosby said of McDavid on Tuesday. “You play against guys like that, I think it brings out the best in everybody.”
It certainly brought the best out of McDavid. The reigning MVP had four points as his Edmonton Oilers beat the Penguins 5-2. It was Pittsburgh's third straight loss.
Entering Wednesday, Crosby and the Penguins had beaten McDavid and the Oilers in all seven showdowns between the two superstars. Three years ago, Crosby stole the show in this building when he scored a sensational overtime winner.
“I think Sid has changed his game since he’s been in the league,” McDavid said after Edmonton’s morning skate. “He came in as a pass-first guy. Then he wanted to get better at faceoffs. Now look at him, he’s a great faceoff guy. He wanted to score more goals. He’s a 50-goal scorer and a Rocket Richard winner.”
McDavid, meanwhile, is still looking to break through in the postseason. But he has three scoring titles and has been awarded the Hart Trophy twice. Last season he was a unanimous selection. He was third in the NHL in points as of Tuesday.
“We don’t get a chance to see him very often. Maybe that’s a good thing from our standpoint,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “But he sure is exciting to watch.”
Wednesday was the first time since Dec. 20, 2019 that their two teams met.