WASHINGTON — After a little push-and-shove, Sidney Crosby was still running his mouth, even as his helmet came off and a linesman tried to push him back toward the bench.
Alex Ovechkin responded with a dismissive, “bye-bye” wave of the left hand, practically taunting the Pittsburgh Penguins star.
It’s official: The two biggest names in the NHL don’t care for each other. Ovechkin is tired of Crosby’s constant jawing, and Crosby has no love for Ovechkin’s theatrics. The emotions were there for all to see Sunday as Ovechkin scored his league-leading 43rd goal and the Washington Capitals routed the Penguins 5-2.
“What I can say about him?” Ovechkin said. “He is a good player, but he talks too much.”
And what does Crosby make of Ovechkin’s showmanship?
“Like it or lump it, that’s what he does,” Crosby said. “Some people like it, some people don’t. Personally, I don’t like it.”
This ought to be interesting — because the NHL hopes Ovechkin and Crosby will be marquee names for years to come. The bitter Pens-Caps rivalry has already gone through a couple of mini-feuds this season: Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin and Crosby-Alexander Semin. Now it’s the league’s last two MVPs mixing it up along the boards and by word of mouth.
Sunday’s notable incident happened in the final minute of the second period after the Capitals had taken a three-goal lead. Ovechkin gave Crosby a nudge with the shoulder, and Crosby retaliated by pushing Ovechkin’s upper body over the boards at the Capitals’ bench. Ovechkin then took his arm and gave Crosby a squeeze around the neck, and Crosby lost his helmet as linesman Greg Devorski stepped in.
Crosby, clearly agitated, was restrained by Devorski, and Ovechkin responded with his little wave as he hopped the boards onto the bench.
“I was skating to the bench and he pushed me from behind,” Crosby said. “I gave him a shot back. That’s hockey, and he likes to run around these days, so that was it.”