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Penguins

Ex-Penguin Ian Cole expects emotional return to Pittsburgh

Jonathan Bombulie
| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, 1:18 p.m.
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) of Sweden is congratulated by defenseman Ian Cole after scoring an empty net goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 2-0.
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) of Sweden is congratulated by defenseman Ian Cole after scoring an empty net goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 2-0.

Tuesday night’s game won’t be the first time defenseman Ian Cole faces the team he won two Stanley Cup championships with since the Pittsburgh Penguins traded him away last February.

He did it once with the Columbus Blue Jackets last April and again with the Colorado Avalanche last week.

But it’s the first time he’s doing in at PPG Paints Arena, so he knows full well it’s going to be different.

“I’m sure it’s probably going to be a little emotional at the time, but you do your best to treat it like any other game,” Cole said. “Even though it’s not going to be any other game.”

Cole’s No. 1 aim in Tuesday night’s game is a simple one.

“Preventing Sidney Crosby from having a hat trick might be a good start,” he said. “In my mind, he’s still the best player in the world. He does really special things like that. You give him an inch of space and he’ll take advantage of it and bury you with it.”

Cole said spending parts of four seasons with the Penguins transformed him as a hockey player.

“Before (the two championships), I would tend to get a little skitterish and get worried,” Cole said. “When you play in super-intense situations … when you step back and go to the regular season when it’s a normal six-on-five situation at the end of a game, it doesn’t seem that daunting. Everything kind of seems like a step back. Not to say it changes your intensity, but I think I changes the way you perceive it and your reaction to it. You’re able to stay a little more even-handed an a little more even-keeled and you can handle pressure situations a little better.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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