Pittsburgh-Washington: The Pens, Sid the Kid Move On

Todd CallahanContributor IMay 13, 2009

WASHINGTON - MAY 13: Simeon Varlamov #40 of the Washington Capitals fails to stop a first period goal by Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center May 13, 2009 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was Ali/Frazier, the Super Bowl, and Dancing with the Stars all rolled into one. The next biggest thing was coming from of all sports hockey, and more specifically the NHL.

Yes, I said NHL.

You remember that league. The one that brought such forgettable gadgets like the glowing puck with the comet tail and Barry Melrose's hair.

The same league that went on hiatus for the 2004-05 season and came back the following year only to realize it wasn't really missed.

Now the league has found something that may return it back into the mainstream of the average sports fan, or at least give it higher ratings than the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

This was Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin. Sid vs. Ove, Canada vs. Russia.

OK, actually it was the Washington Capitals vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Not exactly as marquee as the NBA's dream matchup of Kobe vs. LeBron, but not bad for the league America forgot.

Unlike most hyped-up events, such as nearly every BCS championship games, the Sid vs. Ove matchup went the distance.

The series went seven games before the quiet, unassuming Crosby and the Penguins jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the finale and held on to eliminate the Capitals and their brash Russian goal-scorer Ovechkin.

As the stats go, both Crosby and Ovechkin notched their names in the boxscore on several occasions. Ovechkin tallied eight goals and six assists, and his rival tallied the same number of goals with five assists. However, it was Crosby with a pair of goals and an assist in Wednesday's triumph.

However, Ovechkin had the first scoring opportunity. Three minutes into the contest, Ovechkin had a breakaway opportunity that was thwarted by Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andres Fleury.

It would be the first of many disappointments for Ove and the Caps.

At the 12:36 mark of the first period, Crosby notched his 11th goal of the postseason off assists from Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin on a power play goal. It was the beginning of the end for the Caps.

To rub salt in the wound, Crosby, the hard-working pickup truck compared to the Italian sports car Ovechkin, stole the puck from the Washington left winger and scored on a breakway goal with a little more than two minutes into the final period, giving the Pens a commanding 6-1 lead.

Crosby and the Pens move on to the conference finals, and the Capitals put the skates away for a few months.

While Crosby will look to guide the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals, Ove will more than likely be hitting the the nearest resort, driving fast, partying, and soaking up the nightlife as he begins summer vacation.

Although Crosby and the Pens won this match, the real winner was the NHL. The league has become relevant again.