Sidney Crosby goes after a loose puck against the Islanders Friday at Consol Energy Center.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby's return had no magical ending Friday night for the Penguins, who lost Game 2 to the Islanders, 4-3.
But it certainly started with a flash of what No. 87 can bring to the ice.
Like he had never missed a shift, Crosby came over the boards at 1:23 of the first period for the first time in more than a month to a roar of the crowd.
Within two minutes he scored a power-play goal to make it 2-0, and by 7:22 had scored two, to give his team a 3-1 lead.
It was almost too perfect.
"You know I thought he didn't miss a beat," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.
"He skated well. Was on pucks, he was strong. I don't know how many shots he ended up with, but in addition to his two goals he had a few dangerous situations and plays. In the faceoff circle I thought he was very good, came back in there after missing 13 games."
Those 13 missed games date to March 30, ironically against the Islanders, when Brad Boyes deflected a Brooks Orpik shot into Crosby's face, fracturing his jaw and requiring dental work.
He was cleared to play Thursday and wore a protective guard attached to his helmet Friday, appearing not to miss a beat, seeing time on his regular line and the first power-play unit.
Crosby said conditioning-wise he felt ... "Alright. Definitely a little bit of rust."
His first goal made it 2-0 on the power play with an easy tap-in at 3:19.
Evgeni Malkin had shot wide and the puck ricocheted back toward the net front where Jarome Iginla took a quick shot. Evgeni Nabokov's rebound sat on the doorstep for Crosby.
It marked his first career goal against the veteran goalie and was followed up by a second less than five minutes later.
Crosby scored that time from the goal line off of a rebound to make it 3-1, on a play that started when he won the faceoff.
The Islanders barraged the Penguins zone and methodically chipped away at the deficit, and by 12:23 of the third period had scored the eventual winner.
"It's obviously great to have him back," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "We welcome him with open arms. There's a little adjustment period. They haven't played together in a month, that line, but for the most part they're familiar with each other. They've played together and will get back in there quick."
Crosby said earlier in the day he was more than excited to get back on the ice at such a critical time of year.
"I'm excited to get back in there and play in the playoffs. I think it's going to take a bit of an adjustment period. I'm stepping into the playoffs after this much time. That being said, this is when you want to play," he said.
As for the loss? Crosby said it's something he'll forget quickly.
"You have to. It's the playoffs. It's the nature of it," he said. "If you dwell on things, you've got to turn the page pretty quick."
He played 23 minutes, 21 seconds, with 26 shifts and took eight shots including a diving stab at a rebound late in the third period.