In the long awaited return, Sid “the Kid” Crosby played in his first game back since the he was knocked out of the December 5th game against the Boston Bruins.  Plagued with a concussion he received back on New Year’s Day 2011, he played in only eight games in the season prior to David Krejci’s elbow to his head in his last game.

Even though most would think that Crosby would take it easy in his first game back, especially since he was playing on the third line, he still came back like the elite hockey player that he is.  He collected an assist and a +3 on Thursday night.  He skated in 18 shifts, averaging 0:53 seconds for a total of 16:00 on the ice.  In the 8:00 of power play time, he was on the ice for 4:24 of the man advantage.

Not a bad start for the Kid in his first game back in four months.  Most players struggle in their first game back after being out for such a long time.  Crosby didn’t struggle one bit.  If this is taking it easy, just imagine what he’ll do when he’s not taking it easy.

Perhaps it was his return to the ice that gave the Penguins their incentive to bust the Rangers’ new NHL record of 70 games without allowing five goals.  The Rangers’ new record is the longest in NHL history (by a good 30 games).

Sometimes all it takes for your team to be inspired to do amazing things is to have a superstar (and captain) return to the ice.  If this is what it’s like in his first game back…imagine how they’ll perform down the stretch.  This win came against the number one team in the Eastern Conference, and the Penguins made this win look like it was as easy as slicing a piece of cake.

Sure, the Rangers didn’t have Henrik Lundqvist in net that night, but it’s still no excuse.  There are other players out on the ice that should be stopping the puck before it even reaches the goaltender.

Even though Crosby played on the third line, it was his line that generated three of the five goals for the Penguins on Thursday night.

Matt Cooke scored the first Penguins’ goal at 2:54 in the first period.  The Rangers’ Carl Hagelin followed at 13:36 to tie up the game.

In the second period, Evgeni Malkin scored at 1:19, followed by another goal from Cooke at 2:31.  Marian Gaborik tried to edge the Rangers forward when he scored at 14:32.  This marked his line’s sixth consecutive goal for the Rangers.

“A few guys are struggling,” coach John Tortorella said of the team.  “I’m really excited about what [Brad Richard’s] line is doing.”

With six goals credited to just one line in recent games, this also sends up a red flag for the team.  No one line should be the only scoring line.  They need helpers from the other lines.

Following Gaborik’s goal, the Rangers were not able to battle back as they missed opportunities to score.  Instead, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis finished up the scoring for the Penguins in the final period to give them a 5-2 win over the Rangers.

“It’s really awesome to get all the guys together,” Crosby said of everyone playing together again.  “You want to see everyone come together and get a big win like this.  It’s obviously a lot of fun.”

“If anything, I wasn’t looking for [a goal],” he said.  “I tried not to put myself in a position where I initiated it.  I don’t think there were a ton of opportunities there.”

The Rangers will host the Colorado Avalanche at 7:00 on Saturday.

About The Author

Michelle Kenneth has been with Inside Hockey since 2007 as the beat reporter for the New Jersey Devils. She is also part of the IH team covering the New York Rangers. Since 2007, she's covered the Stanley Cup Finals, NHL All-Stars, NHL Awards, Winter Classic, Stadium Series and the NHL in Europe. You can follow Michelle on Twitter @MichelleKenneth and on her blog:

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