It's official - Sidney Crosby is back and he made an immediate impact for the Penguins.
Crosby, who was out since Jan. 5 with a concussion, opened the scoring early in the first period and added a second goal early in the third in Pittsburgh's 5-0 win over the New York Islanders. The Penguins captain also assisted on the team's second and third goals of the game.
"Just being back out, I can't describe it," Crosby said.
After netting a strong backhander to give Pittsburgh the early lead, Crosby set up Brooks Orpik for the Penguins' second goal of the game - a blast from the blue line, and kept the play alive on the Penguins' third goal of the game - a power play marker by Evgeni Malkin.
Steve Sullivan scored the Pens' fourth goal before Crosby added his second of the game in the third period - another backhander, this time from a sharp angle.
With his four-point night, Crosby passed 243 players on the scoring list as his quest for the Art Ross Trophy is underway.
Crosby, who has practiced with the Penguins since training camp opened Sept. 17, was given a rousing ovation by the Penguins' faithful as he took to the ice to start the game, and the crowd chanted 'Crosby' early in the third period after his second goal. The crowd also cheered loudly when Crosby was announced as the first star of the game.
"The atmosphere was very electric," said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who earned his 21st career shutout. "It was just loud and fun. Sid had a goal early on, so you couldn't have written it any better."
Crosby finished the game with 21 shifts and 15:54 of ice time. His ice time dipped in the third - he played 11:41 through the first two periods - with Pittsburgh comfortably in the lead. Crosby finished with eight shots on net.
"No matter what happened, I was going to make sure to give it my best effort," Crosby said. "I've been waiting for it for a long time and I'm happy it went well."
Pascal Dupuis assisted on both of Crosby goals as well as Orpik's marker, giving him three points on the night. Malkin had two points on the night, also assisting on Sullivan's goal.
Deryk Engelland and Zbynek Michalek also picked up assists on Crosby goals while Kris Letang and James Neal notched a helper each to round out the scoring for Pittsburgh.
"The goals and assists were great obviously, but just being back out there I can't really even describe it," Crosby said. "It was exciting. I was anxious. There were a lot of different things going through my mind. The main thing was to enjoy playing. That's something that I've missed over the last 10 months."
Next up, Crosby and the Penguins host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday and the Ottawa Senators on Friday, before returning to the road to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.