By: Casey Shea

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Several Penguins players who represented their countries in Sochi returned to the ice for practice today.

However, their Olympic experiences are still fresh in their minds.

That is especially true for Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby, who helped Canada win their second consecutive gold medal.

“It’s a great feeling, a huge accomplishment for the whole team the way we played and kept playing, getting better every game and every period. It was a lot of fun to be a part of. I feel a great sense of pride being Canadian and being able to win a gold medal and making everyone back home proud,” Kunitz said. “To be able to hear your national anthem and stand arm-in-arm with guys you played the tournament with and a couple guys that I’ve played with in the past, it’s a special moment to be able to share that with somebody after all the pressure.”

Crosby said living up to the expectations going into the tournament resulted in many emotions.

“I think everybody obviously feels a sense of pride, but also a sense of relief knowing that’s the expectation and that you were able to do what everyone expected,” Crosby said. “I think we just got better as it went on. I think the last three games especially, we were at our best. Obviously, with one-game elimination, that’s important. You can’t take any games off. The more you can improve in a short period like that, the better off you are.”

While the tournament was successful for Crosby and Kunitz, it obviously means the trip yielded disappointing results for some of the other Penguins.

“It definitely wasn’t easy. I thought we were getting better every game and then just lost to a really good team in Canada,” Brooks Orpik said.

While the United States failed to medal in the tournament, Orpik is focusing on the experience he had of being at the Olympics.

“I had a blast for two weeks, met a lot of cool people. Probably enjoyed the whole experience more than I did four years ago,” Orpik said.

It’s no secret that Russia was under the most pressure to win gold in front of their home fans. Unfortunately, things never seemed to come together for the Russians as they exited the tournament in the quarterfinals.

For Evgeni Malkin, he’s disappointed to have come up short, but enjoyed his time back home.

“Of course it’s hard, just need a little bit of time. But, I’m glad to come back and see [the] guys. They helped me a lot and just stay positive and focus my game,” Malkin said. “I know it’s tough to say, but I just not read media, not read paper, just focus my game. I know everyone on [the] team play hard, play 100 percent.”

“I think it’s just tough to have lost.”

The Penguins will be back in action tomorrow night when they play host to the Montreal Canadiens at CONSOL Energy Center at 7 p.m.

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