By: Casey Shea

First off, forgive me for making a Frankie Valli reference in the headline.

While not my taste in music, it sums up last night’s events rather well.

The much anticipated return of Sidney Crosby was better than anyone could have imagined.

I know we shouldn’t be surprised by seeing Crosby put up four points and completely take control of a game. We’ve seen it plenty of times in the past.

However, we haven’t seen that kind of a performance from him in 10 months. Maybe we all took his skills for granted when we got to see them on display every game.

After 10 months off, Crosby stepped in and picked up right where he left off. The best player in the world was putting his stamp on the game.

We all knew he was back, but Crosby showed he was back.

On his first shift, he set up Chris Kunitz with a nice pass. The only thing better would have been Kunitz ripping the twine instead of the crossbar.

While I was unable to attend the game, the electricity inside the CONSOL Energy Center was pouring out of my television.

I had the volume cranked to make it feel a little more like being there.

The crowd was buzzing from the opening puck drop. A collective “OH!” went up when Kunitz rang iron.

You could almost sense something big was coming.

A couple minutes later, that big moment happened.

It seemed innocent at first. Crosby made a nice play off a backcheck below his own goal line. That led to Deryk Engelland hitting Pascal Dupuis with a stretch pass in the neutral zone.

Then it happened.

A simple chip pass to Crosby in full flight and everyone inched a forward in their seats.

As he blew by the Isles’ defense, the only thing left was to beat the goaltender.

And there it was – a powerful backhander to the shelf. Was there any doubt?

The twine bulged, the goal horn rang out and the crowd exploded.

Crosby himself even yelled something in excitement that I can’t put in this post. Can you blame him?

We were all excited to see him play. Imagine how he felt to actually play again.

Root Sports kept showing him on the bench during the game. You’d think he was a young kid again on Christmas. There he sat, laughing and smiling ear to ear, just soaking in the moment.

While the circumstances of Mario Lemieux’s returned in 2000 were different, the similarities were there.

I don’t think I’ve been that excited over a goal since Max Talbot put the Penguins up 2-0 in Game 7.

It was playoff intense last night. Every time he touched the puck the crowd buzzed.

How big was this moment?

Evgeni Malkin scored a crazy goal on the power play in the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury played arguably his best game of the season and no one is even talking about either.

On a normal night, the crowd would have been chanting Fleury’s name relentlessly. He was that good.

The move Malkin made to score was flat out filthy and of course, the play started on Crosby’s stick.

How fun was it seeing Crosby and Malkin flying up the ice together during a 4-on-4 situation in the second period? I’d almost forgotten how exciting that can be.

The “two-headed monster” was reunited several times throughout the game. It’s been entirely too long since any of us got to see the magic those two create together.

The entire team last night showed up to play. All four offensive lines were dangerous and all three defensive pairs were on point.

The best “third” line in all of hockey was reunited with Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. As you would expect, they clicked again and generated several great chances.

With the amount of injuries this team has sustained over the last 10 months, it was great to finally see what this team looks like when healthy.

Crosby finished the game with two goals and two assists, but this wasn’t about points.

What’s scary is that this was just the first game. Can we expect this kind of production in every game? Of course not, but he is capable of doing it on any given night.

Hopefully, this was just the first of many great performances to come.

Welcome back Sid, you have been missed.

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For More Penguins Coverage Check Out Puck Talk With Popchock.


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