On a night when Sidney Crosby recorded his second career playoff hat trick and created a buzz around the hockey world with his jaw-dropping performance in the Penguins' 4-3 victory against Ottawa in Game 2 of their second-round series Friday night, it was up to the player with the worst plus-minus rating on the team to score the winning goal.
Brenden Morrow was a minus-3 in the first seven playoff games, but he came through with the game-deciding goal with 10:56 remaining in the second period when he deflected a Paul Martin shot past backup goaltender Robin Lehner.
"It's just as fun watching Sid do his thing, but it's good to contribute, too," said Morrow, who recorded his first playoff goal as a Penguin.
Morrow was acquired near the trade deadline from the Dallas Stars to provide some scoring punch as a top-six forward. But shortly after Morrow arrived in Pittsburgh, the Penguins traded for Jarome Iginla, who has assumed a role as a top-six forward on the top two lines.
Morrow, the captain of the Stars when he was traded, had been relegated to third-line and sometimes fourth-line duty in recent games.
"Throughout the lineup everyone is willing to check their egos at the door and do what's best for the team," Morrow said. "I'm in that same boat. Whatever coach Dan [Bylsma] thinks is best for the team. We're all pulling on that same rope, and we're having success with it."
Morrow's teammates were happy to see him come through with a big goal. He scored six goals in 15 games during the regular season for the Penguins, but his only two points in the playoffs had been assists.
"He's played so hard," Iginla said. "He's been great for us. He's one of our physical guys, kind of in a shutdown role. But he's been getting great looks, great shots. In front of the net, he's always creating havoc, does stuff on the forecheck.
"Earlier in the game, he had some good looks around the net. It was great to see him get that tip. It was a big goal. He's a guy you hate to play against. You're glad he's on your team."
Despite his recent struggles, Bylsma continued to play Morrow in some important situations. He has used him some as a penalty killer and on the second power play unit.
The winning goal came seconds after a power play ended, and the second unit provided some quality chances before Morrow scored.
"We want those big guys playing as many minutes as they can get," Morrow said. "Sometimes, they're a little gassed and get off. The recipe is to have them out there as much as we can get them. But tonight we came up with a big one."
Lehner originally believed Morrow used a high stick to tip the shot past him, but replays indicated it was a legal deflection.
"It was coming towards my head," Lehner said. "Even if I'm on my knees, I'm pretty tall. I put my glove in front of my forehead there. I know the puck is going right there and obviously it didn't. Someone deflected so my first reaction was to see if it was a high stick. It was probably a good call."
Morrow isn't worried about style points. He just hopes his first playoff goal will lead to more points, period.
"If you don't believe in yourself no one is going to," he said. "None of my goals are really pretty. That was another going in the net, hitting you and going in. Hopefully now they'll come a little easier."
"I like to score in bunches. Hopefully, this heats up and pucks start finding the net. I'm happy to get that one and we'll go from there."
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published May 18, 2013 4:15 AM