UPDATE: Friday, May 3, at 10:43 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Crosby offered some words regarding his return via the Penguins' Twitter feed:
Crosby on return: "Definitely a little rust but there’s not a lot of time so I’ve got to find a way to create things out there & do better”— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 4, 2013
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UPDATE: Friday, May 3 at 9:56 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
The Penguins may have lost their Game 2 matchup against the Islanders on Friday, 4-3, but the Steel City has to be enthused by what they saw from their captain.
Wearing a protective mask that covered his still-healing jaw, Crosby came back to action in Game 2 and it was like he never left. He scored two goals in the first seven minutes on the ice, as Fox Sports' Twitter feed could barely contain its excitement:
Broken jaw? Sid the Kid IS BACK! Crosby has 2 of the Pens first 3 goals in the first 7 minutes of his return to the ice.— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) May 3, 2013
Bruce Arthur of The National Post thought the entire scene felt the entire scene felt fictional:
Sidney Crosby's returns from injury all seem scripted.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) May 3, 2013
Though the storybook scoring pace dried up—how couldn't it?—Crosby was in far better form than anyone could have expected. He was a bit rusty on faceoffs after a red-hot start, finishing with 14 won against 12 lost, but the important thing was Croby looked in full game health.
At 23:21 in ice time, Crosby was only behind Paul Martin for the most on the team.
So even though the Penguins have to be upset by being tied 1-1 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, all signs point toward Sidney Crosby being Sidney Crosby going forward.
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The Penguins announced on the team's official Twitter account that Crosby had been cleared to return to action.
Doctors ruled the former league MVP out of Game 1 on Wednesday, but it didn't matter, as the Penguins rolled to a 5-0 victory on home ice.
Now, with their best player and captain back in the fold, the Penguins will be even harder to stop, even if sniper James Neal remains out of the lineup.
Crosby hasn't suited up since suffering a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face against the Islanders on March 30. He led the league in scoring until the final week of the season, despite missing the final 12 games of the season.
In his absence, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin have picked up the slack offensively, but Crosby's presence isn't something any coach can replace.
During the team's morning skate Friday, Crosby took line rushes in his usual spot, centering a line with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He also worked on the team's top power-play unit.
Crosby won't have to be exceptional for the Penguins to beat the Islanders, but assuming Pittsburgh advances with ease, he'll have time to get readjusted to playing at game speed.
Crosby ultimately may not win the Hart Trophy as league MVP due to missing the most important quarter of the season. However, there’s no questioning that he would have if not for the injury, and given what he’s been able to overcome in the past, he’ll regain that crown in no time.
The Penguins managed to hang on to the No. 1 seed in the East without the game’s best player for the final 12 games. Now that he’s back, the path to the Stanley Cup Final for every Eastern Conference team just got that much more difficult.