It was a hockey night in Pittsburgh back in 2005. It was Sidney Crosby’s first game against his childhood team, Montreal. Crosby suited up next to one of his childhood idols, Mario Lemieux. Crosby’s father, Troy, was in the house and he was also drafted by the Canadiens in the 1984 NHL Draft, the same year Mario went first overall to the Penguins. It was one night after losing to the Atlanta Thrashers! So many great sights to behold - all brought to you by Mike Lange and Bob Errey, exclusively in stunning HD:
Little did anyone at that time know, but Mario would score his 690th and final goal in the NHL in this game. It came with a scare, however, as he was high-sticked (and got a well-deserved tongue lashing from... Pierre McGuire...) just prior to scoring on the power play.
It was your typical Mario goal. Turning an innocent enough looking pass into a highlight reel deflection and perfectly placed shot. Here is the freshly turned 40 year old Mario Lemieux’s final goal in the NHL:
That goal put the Penguins up by 2-0 in the 1st period. And in typical 2005-06 Penguins fashion, that lead dwindled away and the Canadiens would tie the game at two with three and a half minutes remaining in the 3rd period.
Why am I bringing up this part of the game?
Because it gave Sidney Crosby the chance to bask in the spotlight for the first time in his very young professional career at The Igloo against his childhood dream.
And in typical fashion, Crosby delivered. I remember where I was when this happened. I was a junior in high school and sitting on my friend’s couch. We instantly bought tickets to the next game right then and there.
And the Sidney Crosby Era began, just like that. You could just feel the difference in the Penguins after that goal. It was the exact moment he put the league on notice that he was going to take it over for the next 15 years and counting:
Crosby could not have delivered with a bigger exclamation point. The final shooter. The water bottle! The uproar from the crowd! Quite possibly the loudest moment in The Igloo in years. There wasn’t much question before, but that was definitely the moment that Crosby opened a lot of eyes around the hockey world to what he was capable of.
That celebration after the goal. That looked awfully familiar. It was foreshadowing future big goals in his life with very similar reactions. His goal against NYI in his return from the concussion, the Winter Classic shootout winner in Buffalo, the Golden Goal for Canada - all have eerily similar goal celebrations with him coming around the same corner and getting completely mobbed by his teammates and completely stealing the moment.
Crosby stole this moment, too. Not a lot of people remember this game for Lemieux’s final goal in his illustrious career. But many people remember this Crosby shootout winner as if it was yesterday.
So today, I just wanted to lead everyone on a trip down memory lane. And remind us all how lucky we were that #66 and #87 gave us memories that will last forever, just like this one.