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Sid shift-by-shift live blog

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 7:00 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Sid shift-by-shift live blog
Dan Rosen covers Sidney Crosby's every move vs. the Rangers in his shift-to-shift blog.
CROSBY'S FINAL TOTALS
03.15.2012 | 9:35 PM ET

Crosby finished his first game back since Dec. 5 by playing exactly 16 minutes over 18 shifts, an average of 53 seconds per shift. The Penguins won the game, 5-2, and Crosby had 2 assists -- on Friday he was credited with an extra assist on Pascal Dupuis' third-period goal -- and was a plus-3. He had one shot on goal and two attempts at the net. Crosby went 11-10 in the faceoff circle and blocked a shot.

THIRD PERIOD SHIFTS
03.15.2012 | 9:00 PM ET

SHIFT 13: Crosby gets an assist, Penguins take 4-2 lead.

With eight seconds left in the 4-on-4, Crosby came out with Malkin for an offensive zone draw to the right of Biron. Crosby won the faceoff back to Malkin and set up down low, near the net. Kunitz came out of the box to create the power play and Crosby stayed down low. He couldn't get up top to the point. The Rangers cleared the puck allowing the Penguins to set back up again. This time Crosby did go to the point, but the Rangers cleared it again. Once the Penguisn set up again, he returned to the strong side wall, but he ended up down low and his backhanded pass from behind the goal line set up Kunitz for the power-play goal. Kunitz roofed the shot from the left faceoff circle at 3:01. Crosby used his body to shield off Marc Staal before sending Kunitz the pass.

SHIFT 14: Crosby jumped over the boards with Neal and Kunitz this time. There was 13:52 to play. The puck again wound up right in front of Biron and so did Crosby. He has shown no fear in this game. He is heading straight for the net. Biron covered with 13:36 left and the game was stopped for a TV timeout.

SHIFT 15: He's back on with 12:45 to play and 20 seconds later the Penguins scored again.

Crosby jumped over the boards with Dupuis and Sullivan. Crosby again went straight to the net and dove with Steve Eminger on top of him. He got up just fine and stayed on for the faceoff to Biron's right. Crosby won it back to Letang, who fed Martin. Martin's shot was blocked, Letang got it back, sent the puck to the net, and the rebound went out for Dupuis, who deposited right in with 12:25 left. Crosby is now a plus-3 for the night. (ed. note: On Friday, it was ruled Crosby tipped Letang's shot and Dupuis scored off the rebound, earning Crosby his second assist of the game.)

SHIFT 16: Crosby back on with 9:42 to play and again he's with Dupuis and Sullivan. the puck quickly went into the netting behind Fleury and the game was stopped for a TV timeout. The same line stayed on for the ensuing faceoff to Fleury's right. Crosby lost it to Brad Richards, but he wound up blocking a shot to get the Penguins going the other way. The Penguins, though, went in offside and Crosby came off.

SHIFT 17: Crosby is now taking a shift with Staal and Sullivan with 6:50 to play in a 5-2 game. The Penguins have the lead. The Rangers had a scoring chance, but Fleury covered it up. Crosby stayed on as a winger with Staal taking the defensive zone draw. John Mitchell wound up getting robbed by Fleury with 6:13 to play. It was a glove save worthy of making it onto the nightly highlights.

SHIFT 18: He came back with 3:15 left and the Penguins up 5-2. Crosby on the ice with Staal and Sullivan. The Penguins had the puck in the attacking zone for most of the shift, but couldn't do much with it.

SECOND PERIOD SHIFTS
03.15.2012 | 8:05 PM ET

TOTALS AFTER 2ND: Crosby is up to 12 shifts totaling 11:23 of ice time. He is still a plus-1 with one shot on goal. He is 9-8 in the faceoff circle.

SHIFT 6:
Crosby came on for his first shift of the second period to take the faceoff after Malkin scored to make it 2-1 Penguins 1:19 into the period. He won two faceoffs on the shift that he took with Pascal Dupuis and Steve Sullivan. Crosby has still only taken one full even-strength shift with his linemates Kennedy and Cooke. A high stick brought the puck out into the neutral zone and Crosby went off after a 43-second shift.

SHIFT 7: Crosby is back at 4:46 with the Penguins now leading 3-1. He is taking his second straight shift with Dupuis and Sullivan. Perhaps Bylsma likes Staal with Kennedy and Cooke better. That has been a strong line for the Penguins in the past, and it resulted in Cooke's second goal of the night earlier in the period. Crosby has also played a lot with Dupuis. Kunitz is the winger that he has played with the most, but Bylsma isn't about to touch that line with Kunitz, Malkin and Neal right now. Crosby set up Paul Martin for a shot that didn't get all the way through. He was on the ice for almost a minute, but it was fairly uneventful.

SHIFT 8: For this shift, Crosby is taking an offensive zone faceoff with 11:47 left and his wingers are Staal and Sullivan. He lost the draw to Brian Boyle, but the Penguins did not change any forwards. Crosby showed his patented speed burst to get around Stu Bickel, but he couldn't quite get off a shot. The shift ended after 37 seconds with a stoppage in play.

SHIFT 9: Crosby changed on the fly with 8:00 to play in the period. He helped the Penguins get the puck in the offensive zone and played it out of the corner to the front of the net. Dupuis and Sullivan, who started the shift with Staal, stayed with Crosby until Biron covered the puck. Crosby came off, too, ceding to the Malkin line for an offensive zone faceoff.

SHIFT 10: He changed on the fly again with 6:40 left and this time was out there with Kennedy and Cooke. Crosby won a puck battle along the end boards near Fleury to help the Penguins clear the zone. The shift was mostly spent in the defensive zone and it lasted about 50 seconds.

SHIFT 11: Crosby jumped over the boards with 3:37 to play in the period. Once the Penguins gained possession, he dashed to the net and nearly wound up with a scoring chance. The shift was already lasting far longer than Crosby would have liked as the Rangers were able to keep the puck in the zone, but then Crosby iced the puck with 2:04 left and he had to stay on. Bylsma was forced to use his timeout to give Crosby, Cooke, Kennedy, Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek a breather. The faceoff was in the right circle and Crosby lost it to Brad Richards. He was finally able to come off the ice with 1:40 left, meaning the shift was nearly two full minutes. That is not what Crosby or Bylsma are looking for tonight.

SHIFT 12: Well, he wasn't on the bench long. Bickel went off for a double-minor high sticking on Staal with 1:05 left in the period. Staal had to leave the ice and Crosby came on for the ensuing faceoff. He lost this one, but the Penguins were able to keep possession. Crosby went to the oint, but it was the weak side point as Letang was on the strong side. Crosby was working normally on the strong side, the same side as Malkin. However, with 22 seconds left Kunitz went off for slashing, creating a 4-on-4 situation. Crosby, surprisingly, stayed on for the final 22 seconds of the period, winning two faceoffs in the defensive zone.

FIRST PERIOD SHIFTS
03.15.2012 | 7:10 PM ET

TOTALS AFTER THE 1ST: Crosby played five shifts totaling 4:56 of ice time, including 2:24 on the power play. He was a plus-1 with one shot on goal and went 5-3 in the faceoff circle. If he averages five minutes of ice time each period, that would be right where Dan Bylsma wants it.

SHIFT 1: Crosby got into a game for the first time since Dec. 5 at the 2-minute mark of the first period. Fifty-four seconds, the Penguins had a goal. Crosby didn't get it, but it was 1-0 Pittsburgh on Matt Cooke's 13th of the season. Crosby came on to a chorus of boos, but the Penguins quickly had an offensive chance off a turnover. Tyler Kennedy's shot went into the crowd. Crosby took the faceoff in the left circle against Brian Boyle, but he lost it. After the puck pinballed around for a while, Cooke got two opportunities and his second bounced up and over Biron and wound up in the net at the 2:54 mark. It wound up being Cooke from Kennedy.

SHIFT 2: Crosby's line came on for a neutral zone draw that No. 87 won at 5:04. The puck quickly went out of play, so the faceoff went to center ice and Crosby won that draw as well. He dashed up the middle of the ice and went directly to the net as soon as the Penguins gained possession. He clearly is not shying away from battle or the tough areas. The Penguins drew a penalty at 5:44. Marc Staal went off for interference.

Crosby stayed on for the power play shift and, as promised, he started at the right point. He held the puck in twice to keep it going. He looked comfortable at the point and got off his first shot on goal, a rifle from the middle between the circles that Martin Biron snagged. The same PP unit stayed on for the faceoff and kept possession of the puck, but they eventually lost it and Crosby had to go back and retrieve. Crosby came off with 40 seconds left in the PP.

SHIFT 3: His first two shifts ate up 2:50 of ice time, but that includes 1:31 on the power play. He was back after a long rest, including two TV timeouts, at 10:24 for another power-play shift with Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Kris Letang. Brandon Prust went to the box for roughing. The Penguins got a quick opportunity on the PP, but Biron snared Kunitz's shot out of the air with his glove. Crosby won the ensuring draw in the left circle and Pittsburgh ended up with another opportunity on a Malkin shot that Biron had to hold. The faceoff moved to the right circle, but this time Crosby couldn't win it. The Rangers cleared the puck twice before Pittsburgh set up again. Crosby fed Letang for a one-timer, but his shot hit the post and went into the stands with 55 seconds left on the PP. The 2nd PP unit came out.

SHIFT 4: Crosby came on with fourth-liners Arron Asham and Craig Adams for the faceoff after Carl Hagelin tied the game at 1-1 with 6:24 left in the period. He won the faceoff and again went straight to the net. Adams wound up with a shot that Biron had to make a sharp save on. Crosby carried the puck back in and took a bit of a body check from Marc Staal. He handled it fine. He stayed on for about 50 seconds, taking the entire shift with Asham and Adams.

SHIFT 5: Through four shifts Crosby played 4:42, including 2:24 on the PP. He was 5-2 on faceoffs. He came back for his fifth shift of the game with 4:16 left in the first. It was for a defensive zone draw after Marc-Andre Fleury covered the puck in the crease. He lost the draw and after 16 seconds came off as Joe Vitale came on. Bylsma clearly wanted to use Crosby for the 'D' zone draw, but it didn't work.

Crosby not in the starting lineup
03.15.2012 | 7:06 PM ET

Dan Bylsma has opted to keep Sidney Crosby on the bench to start the game tonight. Jordan Staal's line, including Steve Sullivan and Pascal Dupuis, gets the nod with Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik on defense. Marc-Andre Fleury is in net.

For the Rangers, Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov, Marc Staal, Stu Bickel and Martin Biron are your starters.

Will Crosby be one of the best tonight?

03.15.2012 | 7:00 PM ET

There was a large contingent of Penguins fans hanging out by the Zamboni entrance waiting for the team to spill onto the ice for warmups. As soon as Sidney Crosby came on, you could hear the screams.

Yes, we're inside Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers, but the Penguins are represented here and all eyes are on No. 87.

My focus is on No. 87 as well. It's tunnel vision for me tonight as I'm on Crosby iso-cam watch. I'll document each of his shifts right here in the most timely fashion possible, or at least as fast as my fingers allow me to type and post.

So, stick with us right here to get the lowdown on Crosby's second celebrated return to the NHL this season.


Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley