- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

With a powerful move to the outside, plenty of speed and a ridiculous back-handed shot into the net, Sidney Crosby announced his return to the NHL after missing more than 10 months with a concussion.

Crosby finished with two goals and two assists in his first game since Jan. 5. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders 5-0.

Capitals players were equal parts impressed and happy about Crosby’s return.

“It’s pretty impressive, I’ve got to say, to see a guy that’s been out for a couple months and just come back and had two goals and two assists,” Caps center Nicklas Backstrom said. “We need him. He’s probably the best player in the world. I think that’s good for the NHL.”

That was the general theme Tuesday. Coach Bruce Boudreau said, “I thought he was good for hockey.”

One thing the Caps were not was surprised.

“I saw the highlights. I wasn’t surprised, no. he’s pretty amazing,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I was actually asking one of our trainers to give me the updates in between periods to see how he was doing. Sure enough, he had one and one after the first and one and two after the second. It’s no surprise. He’s a great player, and it’s nice to see that he’s back.”

After Boudreau’s press conference Monday, Alex Ovechkin was asked by Yahoo Sports to react to Crosby’s game.

“I didn’t see the game, so … it’s good for him, coming back from long-term injury,” Ovechkin told Yahoo. “So it’s good for him.”

Crosby’s return is the biggest story in the NHL this year. Players, coaches and everyone in hockey alike have been paying attention to the saga, which included Crosby getting cleared for contact Oct. 13 when the Caps were in town.

And while there’s a hotly contested rivalry between the Caps and Penguins, Alzner said 90 percent of NHL players are happy he’s back. That might change for a day next week when Crosby comes to Washington.

“He’s a superstar,” defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. “It’s nice to see him back but hopefully he’s not going to do the same damage that he did last night, to us.”