Did we really expect anything less?
Sidney Crosby didn't just return to the ice, he tilted it in his favor. From the second he set foot on the ice the crowd was behind him and it was apparent from a very early stage that he was not missing a step. Not one bit. His first goal in 2011 was a prime example of how he has not lost his speed, power or accuracy during his time off. A beautiful backhand going top shelf is patented Crosby, and nothing says "I'm back" like a signature goal.
Not only did Sid pick up at least a goal in his debut, but he also helped facilitate two others (Brooks Orpik, Evgeni Malkin) before tallying his second of the year on a weird play that somehow ended with the puck in the back of the Islanders' net. But I don't hear any Penguins fans complaining about that. Just another example of how all the bounces were just going his way.
The highlight of Pittsburgh's night is obvious, but hopefully Marc-Andre Fleury's play is not hidden under the return of No. 87. Fleury recorded his 11th win of the season (11-3-1), a win that also doubles over as his 16th career win against the Islanders. Factor in his shutout and it couldn't have been a better night for the Pens all around.
Tough to see former Pen Mark Eaton go down with an injury. Given his history of knee injuries, the hope is that his initial prognosis of "sprained MCL" remains a sprain and doesn't get worse over the next few days. Also good to see that given Matt Cooke's history of play it can genuinely be construed as an accident and not an intentional knee-on-knee collision.
In a perfect world Crosby pots that third goal, hats rain down on the ice and he skates off into the spotlight as the first star of the game. But four points isn't exactly a tough outing at all, and he was ultimately named the first star regardless.
Say what you will about the Penguins beating the "lowly" Islanders. The point isn't that they beat a struggling team, the point is Crosby alleviated any doubts about his health, his rust or his skills with a brilliant four-point night. He will undoubtedly be evaluated by doctors, but hopefully they don't have to look too far past the score sheet to see that Crosby is doing just fine.
Blues come to town Wednesday at 7pm.