Kovacevic: Crosby 'magnifique' right away
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It all came pouring out of Sidney Crosby with one breathtaking rush.
Nearly a full year of doubt and darkness, all the bouncing from doctors to neuropsychologists to chiropractors for answers, all the rumors and whispers, all of it was reduced to this one rush.
This was an enemy he could see.
This he could beat.
The Penguins' captain stormed through center ice, with no trace of fear, no nod to the severe concussion that had kept him from the game he loves for 320 days. He took a lead pass from Pascal Dupuis and, chin up, saw three New York Islanders strung across the blue line. It was one-on-three, essentially.
This was defenseman Zbynek Michalek's view from the Penguins' bench: "You could just see it coming. I knew the defenseman was in trouble because Sid was coming with all that speed."
That's defenseman, in the singular.
Crosby darted to the right to reduce it to one-on-two, and New York defenseman Travis Hamonic then inexplicably failed to slide over for support. So, Crosby zipped to the right of his only obstacle, defenseman Andrew MacDonald, then charged into the slot, lowered the left shoulder and blazed a trademark backhander over the glove of rookie Anders Nilsson.
With that, he whirled away from the lighted lamp and let out a primal scream — maybe with an unprintable word in there — and pumped both fists.
"Yeah, I was really excited," Crosby would say later. "Part of waiting to play is that you're also hoping to get that first one. It came pretty early, which was nice."
As for whatever was shouted, he smiled sheepishly: "Hopefully, everybody wasn't reading my lips at home. I couldn't hold that in."
It was vintage Crosby, in style, energy, emotion and, above all, drama.
It came on his first shot, 5:24 into the first period, and it was merely the tip of a mesmerizing four-point masterpiece Monday night in the Penguins' 5-0 pasting of the Islanders, one that left the enthralled 18,571 jammed into Consol Energy Center with a lifetime memory.
Crosby went on to set up a one-timer by defenseman Brooks Orpik and a power-play stuff by center Evgeni Malkin, then twirled another backhander past Nilsson in the third period. On the latter, he spun defenseman Milan Jurcina silly before taking the shot, one of a whopping eight in just 15:54 of ice time. He also won two-thirds of his faceoffs and dished out as many hits — two — as he took.
In other words ...
"Sidney Crosby is back!" Dupuis fairly shouted. "I predicted five goals, but four points isn't too bad."
Another who believed was Jay Caufield, the former Penguins winger who trained Mario Lemieux for his emergence from retirement Dec. 27, 2000.
"Sid will be great, just like Mario was," Caufield said. "It never takes the great ones long."
Crosby was worthy of Lemieux on every level, and there is no higher praise in this town.
Actually, the parallels between this performance and Lemieux's only add to the tale: Lemieux had a similar output of a goal and two assists in a 5-0 victory — same score —over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Civic Arena. Even this scene felt similar, thanks to Lemieux's idea to give all fans "SID" placards reminiscent of those "MARIO" models held up for No. 66's many comebacks.
And how about Crosby improving to a career plus-66 rating with that first goal?
Or now having 66 career points against the Islanders?
"He set the standard pretty high for comebacks," Crosby said of Lemieux. "It's pretty hard to match that."
This franchise has been blessed beyond words, and not just in Stanley Cups. The talent witnessed on Pittsburgh ice is headed by the greatest player in NHL history, Lemieux, and three others — Jaromir Jagr, Malkin and Crosby — who have combined to win 13 of the past 23 Art Ross Trophies.
We take stuff like that for granted around here.
It's telling that Crosby was wound tightly in the morning. He acknowledged nerves and wore a pained look all through waves and waves of reporters' questions.
"I'm just trying to enjoy being back," he said at one point, and it looked like he was trying very hard.
The look began to change for the mega-decibel pregame ovation. And it went the full mile after that first goal, when he was all teeth on the Penguins' bench. The kid in the Kid was back.
That's part of what makes Crosby who he is: He has performed under a microscope pretty much his whole life, and those who know him will attest that the only place he is truly himself is on a hockey rink.
As Crosby said of his recovery, "I think now's the easy part. Now, you get to play."
Tell it to those three Islanders.
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.
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 gamesAdditional Information:
Penguins' official site: Postgame reaction
Show commenting policy
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.
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Police: 4 officers injured in Colorado Springs shooting
- In Uganda, Pope Francis pays tribute to nation’s martyrs
- Absenteeism high on first day back after Peters Township teacher strike
- Coroner’s office responds to crash at pond in Beaver County
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- ‘Word people’ could start careers as court reporters, medical scribes
- 5 injured in Route 51 crash in Rostraver