- Associated Press - Monday, November 21, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby split a pair of defenders, worked the puck to his backhand and let it fly.

New York Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson never had a chance.

Welcome back, Sid the Kid.

The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ superstar capped his 10-month comeback from concussion-like symptoms in thrilling fashion, scoring a goal on his third shift and later adding an assist to give the Penguins an early 2-0 lead in his season debut on Monday.

It was a storybook end to Crosby’s frustratingly methodical return, one marked by numerous setbacks, rumors and questions on whether the 24-year-old former MVP would regain the form that’s made him an icon.

The early returns were a resounding yes.

Skating onto the ice to chants of “Crosby! Crosby!” while fans _ many of them dressed in various versions of his No. 87 jersey _ the Penguins captain wasted little time showing he was back for good.

Pittsburgh nearly scored on his first shift and he made his third one count, taking a pass from linemate Pascal Dupuis then racing through the New York defense before zeroing in on Nilsson. The backhand was good, zipping over Nilsson’s glove to cap a moment nearly a year in the making.

Crosby thrust his arms to the sky in triumph, letting out a guttural scream as crowd waved “Sid!” signs.

He did it again near the end of the first period, feeding Brooks Orpik on a pass to the point that Orpik turned into his second goal of the season.

It was the kind of brilliant performance reminiscent of Crosby’s idol, Hall of Famer and current Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.

Super Mario notched a goal and two assists in his return from cancer treatment in 2000.

Crosby said early Monday it’d be hard to match the moment.

It was. And Crosby may have topped it anyway.

The scintillating play was validation for Crosby, who never doubted he’d play hockey again. Never wavered as the months passed and his concussion-like symptoms stuck around. Never wondered if maybe he’d be better off hanging up his skates before his 25th birthday rather than risk the type of injury that jeopardizes more than a career.

Story Continues →