PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The anticipation for Sidney Crosby’s return by his teammates and coaches, the media and the hockey fans in Pittsburgh and around the league was as high as ever Monday night.
Few, though, could have probably predicted how dominant Crosby’s first game back would be, as he scored twice and added two assists for a four-point night in a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders. He appeared to quickly re-assume the title of ‘best hockey player in the world.’
Crosby said, quite simply, it will be a memory he’ll never forget.
“The goals and assists were great obviously, but just being back out there I can’t really even describe it,” Crosby said, according to the Penguins official website. “It was exciting. I was anxious. There were a lot of different things going through my mind. The main thing was to enjoy playing. That’s something that I’ve missed over the last 10 months.
“I’ll have a great memory of this one for a lot of different reasons. That was a pretty fun one to be a part of.”
Crosby started the game off with a dominant first shift and potted his first goal of the season on a breakaway not 5:30 into the first period. He muscled his way past a defender and roofed a backhander past Islanders goaltender Andres Nilsson for a 1-0 lead.
“On the goal, I saw, at least for a few seconds, that they were flat footed on the blue line,” Crosby said. “I just tried to get up in the play. I was able to get some good speed built up when I got it. I knew I had a chance to go wide and wanted to get a good shot away. That’s basically what I saw.
“Part of waiting to play is that you’re also waiting to get that first one. It came pretty early, which was nice.”
He would later assist on defenseman Brooks Orpik’s second goal of the year and Evgeni Malkin’s sixth before netting another backhander for a 5-0 lead early in the third period. Crosby’s second tally came after a physical battle with New York defenseman Milan Jurcina. He eventually faked Jurcina out on the half boards, wheeled around and sent a backhander past Nilsson.
“We played a great game,” forward Chris Kunitz said, according to the Penguins official website. “Our D played great, blocked a lot of shots. Our PK was great. Our PP scored a goal for us. All around, it was a great game and it was great to have Sid back, our captain and our leader.”
A total of 18,571 fans packed Consol Energy Center for Crosby’s debut and created a playoff-like atmosphere all night. From Crosby’s first step on the ice for warmups to his last when announced as the game’s first star, fans chanted Crosby’s name and watched his every move.
“I expected people to be loud, but that was far beyond what I expected,” he said. “It was pretty amazing and pretty special. I looked forward to this game, starting at home was extra special. (Pens fans are) the reason for that. It was an unbelievable ovation and I appreciated all of that. It’s a special thing that I’ll always remember for sure.”