Sidney Crosby scores, records three assists in return for Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby made up for lost time after returning from injury.

The 32-year-old forward scored a goal and added three assists to the scoresheet in his first game back on Tuesday, as the Pittsburgh Penguins demolished the Minnesota Wild 7-3. He had missed the prior 28 games while recovering from the surgery he had on Nov. 14 to repair a sports hernia. Although the captain traveled with the team on its three-game road trip that began on Jan. 7, he was held out of the lineup for each contest.

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When his number was called against the Minnesota Wild — just as he has done time and time again — Crosby delivered.

His night began with a pair of secondary assists on goals by Evgeni Malkin in the first and second periods. After the Pens saw their four-goal lead cut in half, Crosby took the game onto his own stick, netting a simple backhand (with the help of Wild defenseman Matt Dumba). The score put the Penguins ahead 5-2 and essentially ended all hope of a Minnesota comeback with just over half a period remaining.

Pittsburgh went 18-6-4 while Crosby was out, putting them in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 63 points (29-12-5), four behind the division-leading Capitals. But while the Penguins were strong without their star forward in the lineup, Crosby’s skillful play makes his teammates undeniably better.

His ability to see the ice was on full display for his third assist of the night when he dropped the puck off to himself behind the Wild cage, making Ryan Donato look silly, and sent a perfectly-timed cross-ice pass to Dominik Simon for a score. Penguins then led 6-3.

Crosby finished the night leading all skaters in points (4) and assists (3). His pal Malkin was second in points with two goals and an assist — continuing the solid play he showcased during Crosby’s absence.

Playing in 26 of the 28 games Crosby was out, 33-year-old Malkin scored 11 goals and 27 assists, averaging almost a point and a half per game. In fact, Malkin was only held off the scoresheet completely in five of those 26 games. He currently leads the team with 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists) on the season.

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