Crosby back with a bang
CROSBY COLLECTS FOUR POINTS IN RETURN, PENGUINS RIP WILD
Sidney Crosby stressed he wouldn’t try to get “too fancy” in his return from a twomonth layoff following abdominal surgery. It happened anyway. The fact most of the flash came from Crosby’s teammates during Pittsburgh’s 7-3 domination of Minnesota on Tuesday night is symbolic of just how far the Penguins have come during their captain’s extended absence.
Sure, Crosby delivered a sublime goal and three assists in his first game since Nov. 9. Yet he was just part of a dynamic attack that picked apart the Wild with ease. Evgeni Malkin scored twice and delivered a pretty no-look drop pass to set up Bryan Rust’s 19th goal of the season. Jared McCann scored for the fourth time in five games on a tap-in goal late in the first period that came at the end of a highlight-reel sequence in which John Marino feathered a cross-ice pass to Dominik Simon, who redirected it to McCann on the doorstep.
“It’s fun to compete and with the way we work, too, being out there on the bench seeing it shift after shift, it’s a great way to play,” Crosby said. “Everyone’s involved and I think that’s tough for teams to play against.”
Crosby needed less than eight minutes to pick up his first point since before Halloween when he assisted on Malkin’s first goal of the night 7:57 into the game. Crosby added his sixth goal of the season in the third period when he slipped a backhand past Devan Dubnyk as the Penguins rolled to their fourth straight victory.
“Every player is important here in the locker room but Sid is captain,” Malkin said. “He is our leader. He’s a great player, great teammate. You see tonight with him, it creates four lines. Power play is better. We’re lucky he’s back.”
Crosby skated 17:53 after missing 28 games and looked just as dangerous as ever as the Penguins pulled within four points of first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division.
“He’s been working so hard to kind of get back in game shape and get that speed back, get that conditioning back,” Rust said. “He’s obviously done a phenomenal job and I’m not surprised.”