Two-Headed Monster Dazzles in Crosby’s Return

Crosby, Malkin combine for seven points as Pens roll over Wild

Josh Rowntree
January 14, 2020 - 11:28 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) handles the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 2-1.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Sidney Crosby just lives for the big moments. 

The gold medal winning goal at the Olympics, the shootout tally at the first Winter Classic, incredible two-way performances on the way to winning three Stanley Cups. There’s been a lot.

Add Tuesday night to the list. 

After not playing since November 9, Crosby shined in his return to the ice, scoring a goal and assisting three more, as the Penguins topped the Minnesota Wild 7-3. 

Crosby had been out due to a core muscle surgery on a sports hernia he had played through during the opening month of the season. 

Crosby’s transition back to a game not only seemed effortless, but he seemed to get better as the night wore on, making a remarkable play to shake free of Minnesota defenseman Ryan Donato behind the net before finding Dominik Simon for Pittsburgh’s sixth goal. 

“It’s great to watch, definitely, even more when you’re on the ice with him.” Simon said, near speechless as he reminisced Crosby’s move. “It was a really cool play for him. I just had to find the soft spot, and he found me there, beautifully.”

“He works so hard,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of his team’s captain. “His fitness level is so good. It’s pretty difficult to simulate the intensity of NHL game situations. I’m sure that was an adjustment for him, but it sure didn’t appear to be an adjustment for him for the rest of us. 

“It’s hard to get surprised by what Sid accomplishes on the ice when you watch what he’s been able to do. It’s hard to get surprised. He’s just so capable.”

Crosby assisted a pair of Evgeni Malkin power play goals, as Malkin added an assist for the surging Penguins. Pittsburgh has won four straight and now, they hope, will finally be getting arguably the NHL lineup hit hardest by injury a little bit healthier. 

“We’re playing well,” Crosby said. It’s going to get more difficult with every game, especially in the second half here when things tend to tighten up. We’re going to have to continue to make strides. But our work ethic and attention to detail has been pretty good.”

Crosby, in typical fashion, deflected a lot of the attention on him to his teammates and the team in general. But he has noticed Malkin, providing a small laugh when asked about his play of late. Malkin has seven points in the last three games.

"It's pretty fun,” Crosby said of watching  and then joining Malkin on the ice. “There's not many guys in this league that can dominate the way he can. Just a select few, and he's one of them... He was great again and he's been playing awesome hockey."

And Malkin feels the same about the other half of the duo long nicknamed the ‘two-headed monster.’

“It’s so much easier because Sid moves the puck so well,” Malkin said. “He holds the puck so well. He’s the best player.”

Needless to say, Sullivan is pretty happy to have both together again.

“I think that (Malkin) and (Crosby) have the ability to be the best 1-2 punch in the game, or 1-1a, I should say. They’re both generational talents. They were both really good tonight. And I don’t see why that couldn’t occur moving forward.”

Perhaps the most telling compliment on the Penguins’ play, however, came from one of their opponents Tuesday night.

"Their puck support all over the ice was crazy,” Minnesota forward Zach Parise said. “It was like they always had three guys on the puck, offensively and defensively... They come at you 100 miles per hour. That made it really tough."

Exactly what the Penguins want.

Hear more from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and coach Mike Sullivan below.