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Crosby pointless in All-Star debut

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Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007

DALLAS - Since the moment Sidney Crosby entered the NHL as an 18-year-old rookie in 2005-06, he has met and exceeded every expectation.

From scoring 102 points as a rookie, becoming the youngest player in the history of the NHL to reach the 100-point mark, to leading the entire league in scoring with 72 points in 43 games as a 19-year-old so far this season, Crosby has always lived up to the hype, and then some.

That changed on Wednesday at the 55th NHL All-Star Game at American Airlines Center, a 12-9 win for the Western Conference over the Eastern Conference.

It was Crosby's first All-Star Game and was being billed as his coronation, his coming-out party, his chance to shine among the best of the best.

But instead of lighting it up, as everyone expected, especially with his playing on a line with Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Crosby was held without a point.

"Oh yeah, 21 goals or something like that. It would have been nice to get one, especially playing with the guys I was with," an upbeat Crosby said after the game. "But it wasn't to be. We had a few chances, and it just didn't work out."

Crosby's stats - or lack thereof - actually put him in pretty good company.

Wayne Gretzky also was pointless in his first All-Star Game as a 19-year-old in 1980.

"That makes me feel a little bit better," Crosby said. "Maybe I'll sleep a little easier tonight. But with that many goals, you'd think you could get in with one, with the talent that's out there. But it's great to be here, not matter what happens. To experience the whole thing was great, and hopefully I can do it again."

Buffalo Sabres forward Daniel Briere was named MVP with one goal and four assists. Briere was voted into the starting lineup but was replaced on the line with Crosby and Ovechkin early in the game by Brendan Shanahan.

What might have affected Crosby was the fact he couldn't play at the same competitive level within the friendly confines of the All-Star Game, where not a single hit was registered.

But Crosby said that for a game that can sometimes lack intensity, he was impressed by the level of competition.

"I think you are a little on your heels," he said of the change in style. "You don't want to hit guys, and you don't want to get your stick up in a guy's face. Not that you want to do that in a normal game, but it does take a little time to get used to. But it's fun out there. You see those plays. ... You're sitting on the bench and you're seeing (Joe) Sakic to (Martin) Havlat, these guys are just ripping it up, and it's fun to see."

Crosby had his chances, including one shot that he backhanded at the start of the second period that goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff stopped and one point-blank chance in the first period. But he finished with three goals and a minus-4 rating.

Ovechkin got on the board with just under seven minutes left in the second period, but it was late in his shift, and Crosby had already gone off the ice.

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