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Penguins Put On Perfect Opening Act

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
CONSOL Energy Center’s first hockey game couldn’t have gone any better.

The first 7:29 of the contest saw the building’s first (but unofficial because this is preseason) hit (Brooks Orpik; 19:29), first goal (Mike Comrie; 18:39) and first Sidney Crosby tally (12:31).

And that was just the beginning for the Penguins.

Ryan Craig’s snap shot over the right shoulder of Detroit netminder Chris Osgood at the 8:15 mark of the opening frame, the first of Craig’s two tallies, increased Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-0, en route to a 5-1 victory.

Brett Sterling finished with a goal and an assist, Crosby added an assist to complete a two-point night and Mark Letestu added two helpers to lead the way for Pittsburgh.

“The atmosphere was great,” Crosby said. “I think we were all excited about coming and playing the first game here. Guys came ready to compete and do good things. I think all in all it was a great effort by everyone.”

Marc-Andre Fleury starred in goal, stopping 20 of 21 shots in 40 minutes of action to pick up the victory.

“I felt pretty good actually,” Fleury said. “I was pretty nervous before the game, but it was nice to get back into it and make some saves.”

The only downer on a spectacular evening was Crosby missing the third period due to a sore hip flexor. Neither head coach Dan Bylsma nor Crosby expect the injury to be anything serious.

“No, not at all,” Bylsma said. “He was just sore. (Sitting out the third period was) precautionary.”

“It was nothing major,” Crosby added. “It’s just sore. It was my first game in a long time and a pretty intense one for a preseason game. I think I just tweaked it a bit. That’s nothing new for me at this time of year. It usually takes a couple of weeks for it to get comfortable and feel good. It’s nothing I’m too worried about.”

The Penguins’ faithful came early, hoping to see fireworks from the home team. Comrie gave them their money’s worth just 1:21 into the contest.

Sterling sent Comrie streaking into the Detroit zone down the right wing. Comrie’s initial shot from the top of the near circle was stopped by Osgood, but Comrie stayed with the rebound, batting it to himself and the knocking it into the net from mid-air.

“We want to make it tough for other teams to come in here and play us,” Fleury said. “Tonight was a good start to establishing that. It was fun hockey.”

At that point the fans were already rocking, but Crosby made sure to send them into a frenzy 6:08 minutes later.

The Penguins captain received a breakout pass from Kris Letang in the neutral zone, left a Detroit defenseman in the dust and then fired a shot into the glove of Osgood. Except Osgood couldn’t hang onto the puck, allowing Crosby the chance to bat it into the net.

Craig scored goals in both the first and second period, sandwiched around a Sterling tally to round out the scoring for Pittsburgh.

Brad Thiessen relieved Fleury during the third period and denied all five shots he faced.

As great of a performance as the Penguins put forth, at the end, this contest was the perfect start to the CONSOL Energy Center era.

“This is our building,” Pascal Dupuis said. “It’s a great building and we are glad they built it for us. It was great to start the place off with a big win. That’s a good sign.”
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