PITTSBURGH -- He's back. And he's still pretty good.
Sidney Crosby made his much-awaited return Tuesday, scoring a goal and piling up four points in a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Wild at PPG Paints Arena.
Crosby had not played since Nov. 9 and had sports hernia surgery Nov. 14, exactly two months to the day before the captain returned to the Penguins' lineup. This was the fourth time in his career that he missed more than 20 games in a row.
The Penguins posted an 18-6-4 record without Crosby, including their recent road trip that saw them go 3-0 against top Western Conference teams in Vegas, Colorado and Arizona. They had a league-high .714 points percentage over that span.
Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust had 38 and 31 points, respectively. Jake Guentzel was a consistent threat before going down, making his first All-Star team. Tristan Jarry has been unbelievable. But it's been more than just a few guys. Entering the day, the Penguins had an NHL-high eight players with 10 or more goals.
"The team's played great," Crosby said following the team's morning skate while declaring that he was ready to roll. "And I just want to come in and help."
They played great again Tuesday, and Crosby had a little something to do with that.
Crosby's line, which had Jared McCann and Dominik Simon on his wings, started the game. Needless to say, when public address announcer Ryan Mill belted out the starting lineup, vocal cords were strained inside PPG Paints Arena.
Coach Mike Sullivan said those fans are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.
A few minutes into the game, Crosby pivoted while protecting the puck from Wild defenseman Ryan Suter before nearly sneaking a shot by Devan Dubnyk.