LOS ANGELES—For a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby put aside their rivalry and teamed up in the NHL All-Star Game as the Metropolitan Division’s top forward line.
The Metro won the 3-on-3 mini-tournament—and claimed the $1 million prize—but the results for the league's two marquee players were a bit of a mixed bag.
“It was fun,” the Caps’ captain said of skating with Crosby. “I think we had pretty good chances. We [were] not that sharp, but when we needed [to], we score goals and [got] a couple of assists.”
Ovechkin recorded a goal and an assist in the Metro’s 10-6 semifinal win over the Atlantic. But he did not record a shot—and was on the ice for two goals against—in his team's 4-3 championship win over the Pacific.
Crosby’s stats, meantime, were strikingly similar. A goal and an assist in the semis, a goose egg and a minus-2 in the championship.
Despite the uneven performance, Ovechkin said he had a blast—even if it felt a tad strange skating alongside No. 87.
“Yeah,” Ovechkin acknowledged, “but it was all about the fun.”
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Indeed, no rivalry elicits the same hype that Ovi vs. Sid does. Crosby holds a 24-14-3 edge in head-to-head regular season meetings with Ovechkin. Sid’s Penguins have also vanquished the Caps in the second round of the playoffs twice since 2009.
So it was notable that the two not only shared the same line on Sunday, but that cameras showed them talking numerous times throughout the weekend. During the skills competition Saturday, they compared notes about sticks. Prior to Sunday’s tourney, they discussed strategy.
“We just talk about how we’re going to play out there,” Ovechkin said. “If we’re [down] by one, what we’re going to do. It was just simple things, normal things. [Metro Coach Wayne] Gretzky came to us and said we’re going to play together so we have to have chemistry and we have to understand a little bit about how we have to move out there.”
Crosby said the chats came naturally.
“We’re here, we love the game,” the Penguins’ captain said. “This is a great experience from Friday until the game today. We just enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t have to try to do that. Playing on the same team, going through the skills and all that stuff, it was kinda just easy for that to happen.”
But that doesn’t mean the two will be hanging out again anytime soon.
Asked if they’re buddies now, Ovechkin shrugged and cracked, “Um, yeah, best friends. How I always said.”
At the start of the semifinal game, Ovi and Sid looked like a couple of stars who had never played with one another. Crosby missed Ovechkin on a 2-on-1. A shift later, they failed to connect again.
“I couldn’t even find my breath after the first couple of shifts because you go back and forth back and forth,” Ovechkin said. “It was Jesus Christ, like, are we in a playoff game or all-star game? But after that, you find a rhythm and then you’re fine.”
By the second half of the semifinal, though, they seemed to settle into a groove. Crosby finished a pass from Justin Faulk to put the Metro ahead 7-5 late. Ovechkin recorded the secondary assist.
Then as time wound down, Ovechkin tapped a cross-ice pass from Crosby past Tuukka Rask to provide the final margin.
In the final, both got shut out points-wise. Still, they accomplished what they had set out to do: help lift the Metro to a win, a year after the division got bounced in the semis.
“You always want to win; it’s fun,” Ovechkin said. “We sacrificed our body out there, blocking shots. ...When we [were] in the final, we [said] we have to go, we have to push, we’re going to take it.”
Asked if the prize money served as motivation, Ovi joked: “If someone is going to give you one million bucks to share and to split and you’re close, why not?”
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