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Crosby's first 10 games back have been a big success

by Dan Rosen
Sidney Crosby has played in 10 straight games since his second celebrated return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup this season.

He has been bounced off the boards, pummeled into the corners, and bloodied because of a puck to the face -- but Crosby has gotten up every time and played on with the same edge and speed NHL fans everywhere came to appreciate before he went out with a concussion Jan. 5, 2011.

Crosby has 17 points since returning to the lineup on March 15 at Madison Square Garden. He has 29 points in 18 games this season.

He will play in his 11th straight game and 19th of the season Sunday in Pittsburgh against Philadelphia. It'll be Crosby's second game against the Flyers this season.

The Flyers held Crosby off the scoresheet in the March 18 game in Philadelphia. It was one of only seven games this season in which Crosby has not recorded at least a point. The Penguins are 2-3-2 in those games, but 9-2-0 in games he does score a goal, dish out an assist, or both.

Here is a game-by-game breakdown for Crosby since he re-joined the Penguins' lineup at the midway point of March:

March 15: Penguins 5, Rangers 2 (at Madison Square Garden)

Crosby helped the Penguins put the game away with a pair of primary assists in the third period on goals by Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He played exactly 16 minutes, was a plus-three and won 11 of 21 faceoffs. The Penguins won their 10th game in a row.

March 17: Penguins 5, Devils 2 (at Prudential Center)

He helped Pittsburgh continue its torrid stretch with three more assists in 15:19 of ice time. Crosby used a backhanded pass off a 2-on-1 rush to set up Matt Cooke for a tip-in goal 11:44 into the second period. With the Penguins on the power play less than a minute later, he zipped a blind cross-ice pass to set up Evgeni Malkin for a one-timer that he blasted past Martin Brodeur. Crosby also had the secondary assist on Cooke's second of the game in the third period. Crosby also had six shots on goal.

March 18: Flyers 3, Penguins 2 (OT) (at Wells Fargo Center)

The Flyers held Crosby off the scoresheet as they came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game on Scott Hartnell's goal with 0.9 seconds left in overtime. Crosby was a minus-one with three shots on goal in 17:37 of ice time. He won 11 of 21 faceoffs.

March 20: Penguins 8, Jets 4 (at Consol Energy Center)

Crosby put up his second four-point game of the season in his first home game since returning to the lineup. He had four assists as the Penguins routed the Jets to improve their home winning streak to nine games. He also played more than 19 minutes for the first time since returning to the lineup in New York. Crosby had three primary assists, including two from behind the net to set Tyler Kennedy up for goals, and a secondary assist on James Neal's power-play goal.

March 22: Penguins 5, Predators 1 (at Consol Energy Center)

Crosby took a back seat to the Malkin Show. Malkin scored twice on 10 shots on goal as the Penguins routed the Predators, spoiling Alexander Radulov's first NHL game in almost four years. Crosby did not record a point and was relatively quiet in 19:02 of ice time. He was a plus-one with one shot on goal.

March 24: Senators 8, Penguins 4 (at Scotiabank Place)

He scored his first goal since Nov. 21, when he made his first celebrated return to the lineup, but the Penguins were rocked in Ottawa. Crosby also had an assist and six shots on goal in 17 and a half minutes of ice time. His goal cut Ottawa's lead to 5-4 with 8:17 left in the third period, but the Senators scored three more times before the game was over.

March 25: Penguins 5, Devils 2 (at Consol Energy Center)

Crosby picked up another third-period goal as the Penguins improved their home winning streak to 10 games. His goal extended Pittsburgh's lead to 4-2 with 15:05 to play. It came just 78 seconds after Ilya Kovalchuk sliced the lead down to one. Crosby also had the primary assist on Pascal Dupuis' goal in the second period. He played 19:53 and won 12 of 19 faceoffs.

March 27: Islanders 5, Penguins 3 (at Consol Energy Center)

The Islanders held Crosby off the scoresheet and snapped Pittsburgh's 10-game home winning streak in the process. Crosby won 15 of 21 faceoffs, but he was on the ice for two of the Islanders five goals. He played a season-high 21:09.

March 29: Islanders 5, Penguins 3 (at Nassau Coliseum)

The same team did it to him again, except this time the Islanders also made Crosby bleed. Dylan Reese tried to clear the puck out of the defensive zone early in the second period, but the puck instead struck Crosby just under the face shield and he went sprawling to the ice, clutching his face. Crosby left the ice holding a towel to his face, but he returned about eight minutes later and finished the game. Crosby was a minus-two and won only six of 14 faceoffs in 17:28 of ice time.

March 30: Penguins 5, Sabres 3 (at First Niagara Center)

Crosby played arguably his best game since returning to the lineup. He scored a goal and had three assists to help the Penguins snap their own two-game losing streak and bring an end to the Sabres' five-game winning streak. The only Pittsburgh goal Crosby wasn't involved in Friday night was the empty-netter scored by Jordan Staal. He was otherwise brilliant in 17:40 of ice time.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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