Sid the Kid is back.
That's the message Sidney Crosby sent the entire National Hockey League in his first game with the Penguins since a head injury sidelined him in January, scoring two goals and notching two assists in Pittsburgh's 5-0 win against the Islanders on Monday night at the Consol Energy Center.
Crosby got the Penguins on the board early, tallying his first goal of the season 5:24 into the game on a backhand shot thanks to a setup from linemate Pascal Dupuis, and kept on the attack from there. Later in the period, he assisted on a goal by defenseman Brooks Orpik, then followed with an assist on Evgeni Malkin's goal early in the second period. He capped his breathtaking comeback performance with a backhanded goal early in the second period to lift the Penguins to their twelfth win of the seaason.
"He adds so much to our team," linemate Chris Kunitz told reporters after the game. "Obviously we're excited to have him back and playing at that level."
Crosby logged 15:54 of ice time in his return, almost four minutes more than head coach Dan Bylsma had expected him to play and finished the night with eight shots on goal and wins on 14 of his 21 faceoffs.
The captain also answered questions about how he'd handle contact at game speed by shrugging off a couple of hits, including one by New York's Travis Hamonic that dropped him to the ice early in the first period. This hits had no visible effect on his game, and he shrugged them off without much of a problem.
All and all, Crosby was pleased with his return.
"Just being back out there, I can't even really describe it," Crosby said at his post game press conference. "It was exciting, I was anxious with a lot of different things going through my mind, but the main thing was just enjoying playing and that's something I've missed for the last 10 months, so it's great that we had a good game there, got the win."
The Penguins' captain wasn't the only one putting on a show, however. Marc-Andre Fleury, the game's No. 3 star, earned the 21st shutout of his career with 29 saves and Dupuis finished with three assists. Malkin finished with a goal and an assist.
Naturally, though, the focus on this game now, and on into the future will be on Crosby's spectacular performance, one that Dupuis jokingly told ROOT Sports' Dan Potash after the game still fell short of his expectations.
"Somebody asked me yesterday if I thought Sidney Crosby was going to be on top of his game," Dupuis said. "I predicted five goals, so four points isn't too bad."
The Penguins return to the ice Wednesday when St. Louis visits the Consol Energy Center for a 7:08 p.m. faceoff.