Share This Page

Crosby dominates in comeback vs. Islanders

Sidney Crosby required one shift to shake off the rust, another to score a goal and about half a game to pronounce to the National Hockey League that his status as the world's greatest player was not altered by a nearly 11-month absence due to a concussion.

Crosby produced one of the great performances of his career, scoring twice and adding two assists in the Penguins' 5-0 victory against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center on Monday, further proof that the Crosby Show isn't close to syndication.

"People were asking me if I thought he was going to leave off where he did before," defenseman Kris Letang said. "I said he was going to put on a good show. And that's what he did."

Calling it a "good show" might be an understatement. From the moment Crosby took the ice to a thunderous ovation to the game's final shift, as he flashed a big smile at the end of a nearly perfect game, Crosby owned the night.

It was a Lemieux-esque return, as Crosby literally was a threat to score on every one of his 21 shifts. He scored a patented Crosby goal on the rush in the first period, set up defenseman Brooks Orpik's goal later in the period, received an assist on center Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal and scored on another backhanded shot in the third period.

Not bad for a guy who hadn't played in an NHL game in almost a year.

It's a night Crosby won't soon forget, as the ovation he received appeared to touch him deeply.

"It was far beyond what I expected," Crosby said. "Starting at home was extra special. They're (the fans) the reason for that. It was an unbelievable ovation. I appreciate that. It was a special thing that I'll always remember."

Crosby's description of the ovation also could be used to define his performance. Rarely does anyone — even all-time greats — look close to flawless when returning from such a long layoff. However, Crosby looked like the player who took control of the NHL last season.

His stats are mesmerizing enough — he produced two goals, two assists, eight shots and won 14 of 21 faceoffs in only 15 minutes, 54 seconds of ice time — but perhaps even more striking was that everyone around Crosby essentially expected such a performance.

"It's a pleasure to have him back," said left wing Chris Kunitz, who denied Crosby an assist on his opening shift by hitting the crossbar. "From practicing, you could see his skills hadn't diminished. Right off the hop, it felt like something was going to go in for him."

Aside from Crosby's brilliance — and it's hard to ignore — his presence seemed to properly assemble all of the Penguins' parts in place. Malkin, who scored a goal and assisted on another, was able to run his line against the Islanders' second defense pairing, which might explain his ability to set up left wing Steve Sullivan's first even-strength goal of the season.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 21st career shutout, but it will be largely forgotten, not just because the spotlight belonged to Crosby but because the Penguins were so dominant in terms of puck possession that the goalie didn't have too much work.

"Sidney deserved this night," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "He's finally back. He's worked so hard to get back. To have a great game like that, we're just so happy. He's a big part of our team."

No. 87 is No. 1

Sidney Crosby's return by the numbers:

2 — Goals

2 — Assists

8 — Shots on goal

2 — Times he was checked solidly

15 — Minutes of Crosby highlights shown at a Mt. Lebanon middle school to begin children's class day

15:54 — Ice time

34-19-8 — Penguins' record without Crosby past two seasons

300 — Dollars being sought by scalpers for a ticket

250 — Media credentials issued

320 — Days between games

Photo Galleries

Sidney Crosby Returns November 21, 2011

Sidney Crosby Returns  November 21, 2011

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scores twice in his return against the New York Islanders, Monday, November 21, 2011 at Consol Energy Center.

Additional Information:

Video

Penguins' official site: Postgame reaction

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.