Crosby's brilliant night overshadowed by Subban tussle, bottle toss

That the secret to his greatness is really no secret at all. No goal there, but the Penguins would score moments later on the resulting power play.

What separates Crosby is an ability to raise his play in lockstep with the stakes.

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final wasn't even a minute old when Sidney Crosby put his stamp on it. He took over. And he led.

Sure, Crosby dished out three assists in Pittsburgh's lopsided 6-0 win to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead in their increasingly coarse series with the Predators. Or, the home team will win again and the Stanley Cup Final will have its first Game 7 since 2011. The Predators are now on the brink of elimination after Thursday's loss. The Pens made the entire play look effortless. P.K. Subban was at 24:38 while Ryan Ellis was at 24:11 and Mattias Ekholm was at 23:59.

Did Crosby actually intend to chuck the bottle on the ice in protest?

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There was the slick blind backhand pass to Conor Sheary just 1:19 into the second period that made it 4-0. Conversely, Nashville won its two games at home while outscoring the Penguins 9-2 behind a raucous fanbase and city that have become a social phenomenon for its passion. He insists it was accidental. But no one on the ice - perhaps no one off the ice, either - could match Crosby's fire. It just seemed like more.

"We've got to be better in front of him", Laviolette said. This is where it gets a little more complicated. Coach Mike Sullivan thinks his Penguins are playing better, harder and smarter over the past two games. "He lives the right way".

Despite being right there, the official saw no reason to intervene as the players tangled up.

Crosby ended up on top of Subban and neither got immediately to his feet. Fillipponi has been known to take a contrarian viewpoint of the teams in the Pittsburgh market.

"Obviously when you win the chain, it's recognition from your teammates you contributed and you had a solid night", Irwin said.

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The two other attackers were named as 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba and 30-year-old Rachid Redouane . Police also found a number of office chairs, bags of builders' gravel and a suitcase in the van.

First, there was the tussle with Subban towards the end of the first period where Subban grabbed Crosby's legs, and Crosby tried to escape by repeatedly pushed Subban's head into the ice, in full view of a ref. Players push limits all the time, but this went beyond just playoff hockey, and, for the uninitiated, it's just a bad visual. Replacing Murray with the player slated to be his backup would be a bold adjustment with so much on the line, but the Penguins also risk going down 3-2 and heading back to Nashville for a decisive Game 6 if they don't make a change.

"He's giving our team juice", Sheary said. "Looking at (Game 4), we felt like we still generated some good chances". The last nine months have only emphasized Crosby's resilience.

Crosby missed all of one game. Evgeni Malkin scored his 10th and had an assist, while Ron Hainsey also had a goal and an assist. He scored on Pittsburgh's first shot against backup Juuse Saros, who replaced Pekka Rinne at the intermission.

Then Hainsey - who isn't noted for his speed, but is a brilliant skater - carried the puck all the way into the Predators' zone.

This time, Subban did not have much to say Crosby's tactics behind the Pittsburgh net.

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But his attempt echoed last July's attack in Nice, France, when a 19-tonne truck was driven into crowds, killing 86 people. Butt, Youssef Zaghba and Rachid Redouane drive in a red Corsa to Harold Hill, Romford, to pick up the van.

Another performance like Game 5, however, and it might be.

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