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Pens-Isles In-Game Blog (Crosby Returns Edition)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins



0:00: PENS WIN 5-0!!! Sidney Crosby with 2 goals, 2 assists and 4 points in his first NHL game since Jan. 5! Fleury with 29 saves for his 21st career shutout!

4:09: I spoke too soon. Isles right back to the PP as a falling Kunitz' stick takes out Tavares' legs.

6:10: Staalsy is released! Pens successfully thwart that shorthanded series!

7:54: Michalek out of the box, meaning Pens now down just one man instead of two.

8:10: With 16 seconds left in Z's penalty, another one of Pittsburgh's strongest PKers, Jordan Staal, is now in the box for hooking. Isles to the two-man advantage for a little bit here.

9:54: One of the Pens' best PKers in Michalek is in the box. Pitt now shorthanded for the next 2 minutes.

12:25: Fleury's glove flicks out lightning-fast and snatches Michael Grabner's shot from the left circle! A save such as that inspires "Fleury! Fleury!" chants from the fans. Certainly well-deserved!

IN CASE YOU MISSED SID'S FIRST GOAL...our intern Justin Criado captured it in real-time. Props to Justin for his great photography skills!

14:12: After Asham checks Travis Hamonic into the boards, the glass dislodges on them while they battle for the puck. Luckily no one is harmed. Arena workers rushing to the ice now to make the necessary repairs.

17:54: GOAL NUMBER TWO OF THE NIGHT FOR SID!!!!!!!!!! He changes direction on a Isles player and powers down the side of the ice before whipping a backhand to the net that travels through two more Isles players and past Nilsson short side! Oh, how I missed Sid! Pens 5, Isles 0

19:10: Cooke turns and fires a shot from the slot that hits Nilsson's pad and he doesn't know where it is! Staal charges to the net to try and capitalize on the rebound but Steve Staios manages to get between him and the goal line and deflect the puck out of danger!

20:00: The puck has dropped on the final frame!


- Michalek has three shots through 12:31 minutes
- Dupuis has two assists
- Malkin is 6-of-10 on faceoffs (60 percent)

0:00: That'll do it for the second. Pens now up 4-0 thanks to goals from Malkin and Sullivan. Pitt outshooting NY 27-20 after 40 minutes.

2:09: Adams is whistled for goalie interference late in the period even though the replays clearly show it was Marty Reasoner who ran over his own netminder. Pens to the PK.

5:02: Crosby just had his seventh shot of the night. Unbelievable. That's a career-high for most players. The most pucks Sid has ever fired to the net in a single game is 9 -- he's definitely got a chance to match that tonight.

5:28: Pens successfully thwart the Isles PP. Back to full strength!

7:28: Isles head to the power play when Asham gets a pair for hooking. First real PK of the night for Pittsburgh. Staal, Dupuis, Orpik and Michalek out to start. A formidable foursome.

9:32: Nilsson with a sick save on Sid just now!!! He picked up a rebound from the corner that Nilsson scrambled across his crease to punch out of danger. Yes, he literally punched it.

10:47: Orpik sends a shot to the cage that TK gets a stick on, but Nilsson comes up with the save. Good chance for the Pens there.

11:46: Cooke and Mark Eaton collide in the Pens D zone and Eaton is slow to get up, with the trainer coming out to attend to him. Luckily he seems OK.

14:07: Neal carries down and dishes off to Malkin, who's right behind him. He sends an absolute perfect pass to Sullivan's blade, which deflects into the net past Nilsson! Pens 4, Isles 0

16:43: Sid backhands a pass across the slot to a waiting Letang, who quickly one-times the puck to the net. Geno re-directs the pass off the pad of Nilsson; but not so fast -- he grabs his own rebound and deftly steps around the Isles goalie to stuff the puck home!!! PP goal for Geno! Pens 3, Isles 0

17:07: Neal's out of the box. Pens now have a PP for 34 seconds!

18:33: With 3 seconds left on Parenteau's penalty, MacDonald is gone for hooking. We'll have 4-on-4 hockey much longer than we anticipated.

19:07: With 37 seconds left on Pitt's PP, Neal is penalized for hi-sticking. We'll have 4-on-4 hockey for a short time here.

20:00: Puck drops. Game on to start the second! Pens have 55 seconds left on their PP from the first period.

For those of you who aren't here with us tonight. Welcome back, Sid.


- Michalek played 6:44 minutes and had 1 shot on goal
- Orpik is now 3 points from 100 for his career
- The Pens are 7-1-3 when scoring first
- The Isles are 1-8-1 when surrending the first goal

0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens lead 2-0 on Crosby's first goal of the season and a scorcher from Brooks Orpik (that Sid earned the primary assist on). Pittsburgh outshooting NY 12-9. Boom!

0:30: Pens get their third PP of the night when PA Parenteau is whistled for tripping. They'll end the period with the man-advantage.

3:06: Shortly after the goal, Tavares gets a pair for hooking. Pens' dangerous PP back on the ice.

3:31: Sid collects the puck in the corner of the Isles zone and backhands a pass to Orpik, who's stationed in the middle of the point. Brooksy winds up and fires an absolutel rocket top shelf past Nilsson!!! Primary assist to 87!!! Pens 2, Isles 0

3:51: Unfortunately today will not be the day. Big Mac Attack is over.

5:51: Can Crosby break the Big Mac Attack curse?!?! The Pens have yet to score this season on the Big Mac Attack, which begins now! If Pittsburgh scores within the next two minutes, every fan in attendance can redeem their ticket for a free Big Mac.

7:21: Isles back to full strength.

9:21: Sid just dished a pass to Geno from the slot and his shot rang off the post!!!

10:01: Milan Jurcina just got whistled for cross-checking. Pens to the PP! Dangerous unit out there: Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Sullivan and Letang.

11:22: Pens historian Bob Grove just called Sid scoring on his first shot on his first game back "very Mario-like."

14:36: Dupuis picks up a pass on the boards in the neutral zone. He feeds a perfect pass to a speeding Crosby, who catches it with his blade and turns it to his backhand. Sid powers around Andrew MacDonald and lifts it glove side over goalie Anders Nilsson!!! SID SCORES ON HIS FIRST SHOT OF HIS FIRST GAME BACK!!! Pens 1, Isles 0


16:15: Isles get a few cracks right on the doorstep, but Staal uses his big body to clear the slot and TK swoops down and carries the puck out of danger. Good shift for New York.

17:28: Sid's first shift lasts 57 seconds and he won the opening faceoff.


19:32: Sid's already making things happen on his first shift. He carried behind the net (taking contact from a pair of Isles players) and got the puck into the slot, where Duper couldn't quite handle it. Then Kunitz swooped in and his backhander went off the crossbar!!! The crowd went nuts!


7:06 PM:
The Pens are hitting the ice now!!! The fans were given "Welcome Back Sid" signs upon entering and everyone in the crowd is waving theirs!

The crowd is absolutely roaring. I cannot hear myself think it's so loud in here.

Crosby's line is starting, and the fans drowned out the PA announcer when he said Sidney's name. Now a "Crosby, Crosby" chant is starting so loud it's giving me chills. Awesome response from the fans.

A LITTLE PRE-GAME TREAT – Sid's warm-up:

7:00 PM:
Pens scratch MacIntyre, Vitale and Picard. Here are the official lines:



Fleury in goal.

6:50 PM:
Warmups are over. T-minus 20 minutes until game time here at CONSOL Energy Center!!!

ALSO: This is a good time to note that Pens defenseman Zbynek Michalek is also returning to the lineup tonight after missing the last 10 games with a broken finger. He's been out since Oct. 25, and getting him back in addition to Crosby will be a huge boost for the Pens.

6:30 PM:
The time is almost here. Sid just got on the ice for warmups. He stepped on the ice in his usual position, second to last behind Geno to a loud reception from the gathered crowd – a much bigger one than we tend to see here to warmups. I wonder why...

He then did his usual stickhandling routine through the McDonald's logo painted on the ice between the blue and red lines. Sid always dribbles a puck through the arches of the M. He also knelt down and re-tied his skates, like he always does. Business as usual for No. 87.

6:25 PM:
Today in the locker room following the Pens' morning skate, Sidney Crosby's teammates tried to put into words what it will be like to see No. 87 hit the ice for his first NHL game since Jan. 5.

It was perhaps winger Matt Cooke who said it best:

"I think you can’t put into words what it means. I mean obviously, when you add the best player in the world back to the game, it’s a huge point. I think that probably the next-closest thing to this is when Mario (Lemieux) came back from when he was sick and you saw the response that game got. It’s going to be fun to be a part of and I can’t wait to see him out there."

Cooke was referring to the 1995-96 season opener, the day that Penguins owner/legend Mario Lemieux returned to the Pittsburgh lineup after sitting out 18 months for medical reasons. In that game, the Igloo went absolutely nuts as they watched their beloved Super Mario earn four assists in an 8-3 win over Toronto.

The atmosphere is sure to be just as electric in short order here at CONSOL Energy Center as the Kid rejoins his Penguins teammates for the first time in over 11 months – a total of 320 days, to be exact. He’s missed 61 regular-season games (and 7 playoff contests) while recovering from a concussion, and tonight marks his long-awaited return to the National Hockey League.

It’s a moment that’s been eagerly anticipated by everybody – not just Pens fans, but anyone who appreciates the game of hockey and everything that Sidney has done for it – and no one more so than Sid himself. He’s worked as hard as he possibly could to make sure he's back to 100 percent, and that means it’s a time to celebrate – as the best player in the world back to doing what he does best.

To re-word the Penguins’ ad campaign from that 1995-96 season – “The three most feared words in hockey: Sid is back.”

So if you’re reading this blog, make sure you stay tuned because it’s going to be filled to the brim with Crosby coverage throughout the night. Enjoy!

Here's the coverage of Sidney Crosby's return since it was announced Sunday:
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