He did, Sidney Crosby recalled, feel pretty good before the game.
Likely nowhere near as good as he felt by the time it was over, though.
Crosby scored the Penguins' first three goals in their 4-3 victory against Ottawa at Consol Energy Center Friday night, giving them a 2-0 lead in their second-round series against the Senators.
"He's a fun guy to watch," Penguins winger Jarome Iginla said. "A fun guy to have on your team."
Crosby's hat trick was the second of his playoff career and allowed him to become the 84th player in NHL history to hit triple-figures in career playoff points.
That's pretty impressive, but not as impressive as this: Only four players got to 100 points in fewer games than the 75 Crosby needed.
That this was one of the most outstanding performances of his career is a given. Precisely where it fell on that list wasn't so obvious.
"I don't know," defenseman Kris Letang said. "He's had so many."
The Penguins' 2-0 lead is their first in a series since the Eastern Conference final against Carolina in 2009. They went on to sweep the Hurricanes.
The series now shifts to Scotiabank Place for Game 3 at 7:38 p.m. Sunday and Game 4 Wednesday night.
Crosby put the Senators behind for the first time with a remarkable effort at 3:16 of the first period.
He got the puck near the Penguins' blue line, carried it through the left side of the neutral zone then, after cutting inside Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson near the Ottawa blue line, beat Senators goalie Craig Anderson from inside the left circle.
"I was kind of running out of space there to make a pass," Crosby said. "I was hoping it was able to find a way in, somehow."
Paul Martin's assist on that goal gave him a point in four consecutive games, tying the longest playoff streak of his career.
Although the Penguins dominated much of the play before and after Crosby scored, they couldn't get a two-goal lead.
That became significant when Evgeni Malkin took an offensive-zone hooking penalty at 13:03, and Kyle Turris of the Senators put a shot between the legs of Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun from along the goal line to the left of the Penguins' net at 13:15.
The Turris goal rejuvenated the Senators, who clearly were cognizant they could have been behind by a field goal instead of tied at that point, but Crosby short-circuited Ottawa's momentum a few minutes later.
He carried the puck from center ice to near the bottom of the left circle, then banked a shot off the inside of Anderson's left leg pad and into the net at 16:07.
"Crosby just kind of threw it on net and caught me off-guard," Anderson said.
That was Crosby's fifth goal of the playoffs and his 101st career playoff point, moving him past Ron Francis and into fourth on the franchise's all-time list. Crosby completed his hat trick 75 seconds into the second period by hammering a slap shot past Anderson from above the left dot during a power play.
That prompted Ottawa coach Paul MacLean to replace Anderson with Robin Lehner, and Anderson wasn't even settled on the bench when the Senators climbed back to within one.
Colin Greening made it 3-2 at 1:55, beating Vokoun on the short side from the inner edge of the left circle.
Brenden Morrow's first goal of these playoffs at 8:04 of the second made it 4-2.
Vokoun was not sharp early, but rejected two breakaways before the second intermission to preserve the Penguins' two-goal advantage.
He stopped Greening in the middle of the period while Ottawa was killing a slashing minor to Chris Neil, then turned aside Cory Conacher when he exploited a Kris Letang giveaway to move down the left side alone before cutting to the net at 17:08.
The importance of those saves was magnified at 2:01 of the third, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau backhanded in a loose puck to lift the Senators to within one again, but Ottawa couldn't get another puck by Vokoun.
The Penguins have the upper hand, but aren't making arrangements for Round 3 yet.
"We know it's going to be difficult," Crosby said. "I think we just turn the page on this one and move on to the next. I don't think we need to get caught up in the fact that we won two here.
"They're going to be pretty desperate, so we'd better be ready."mobilehome - breaking - penguins
Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published May 18, 2013 4:00 AM