PITTSBURGH—After a decades-long decline in fan interest that reached its nadir with the loss of an entire season to labor strife, the National Hockey League was rescued by the efforts of reigning MVP Sidney Crosby, whose goal and two assists against the New Jersey Devils restored the league to the heights of its former glory. "What a truly momentous day for the rejuvenation of the great sport of ice hockey," Commissioner Gary Bettman said of Crosby's transcendent performance in a point-grabbing overtime that brought the Penguins within striking distance of fourth place. "That second assist was a shining example of what this game can truly be—Crosby recognized the screen, found the open man with the angle, and displayed the awe-inspiring talent one associates with a Muhammad Ali or a Michael Jordan. Hockey is surely saved now." Bettman also acknowledged single-goal, two-assist performances from 13 other NHL players including Chris Chelios, Dany Heatley, and Todd White, but emphasized that, unlike Crosby, they had not saved the NHL.
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