New York Islanders Goalie Anders Nilsson made his first NHL start Monday night. What’s that? You didn’t hear anything about the 21-year-old native of Lulea Sweden lacing up the skates for his second NHL game and first start? That’s probably because at the other end of the ice was a young hockey player by the name of Sidney Crosby making his return to the ice after a layoff of 320 days.
“Sid-the-Kid” quickly reminded the hockey world why he is the face of the National Hockey League. He scored a goal in his third shift and picked up an assist on his fifth, on his way to a 2-goal, 2-assist night as the Pens shutout the visiting Islanders and the aforementioned Nilsson 5-0. After just one game, Crosby found himself in the talk of the NHL scoring race. Toronto’s Phil Kessel currently leads that race by 25 points with 61 games to play. Currently, Crosby is on a pace to score 245 points this year.
Stltoday.com columnist Jeff Gordon has a rundown of what the hockey press is saying about Crosby’s return.
Those of us that “Bleed Blue” should take note of the return of “The Kid” because his next opportunity to wow the league and attract non-fans happens on Wednesday night when the Blues travel to the CONSOL Energy Center to take on the Penguins.
Keep reading for more on the return of Crosby as well as a preview of tonight’s game against the Kings.
The return of Crosby was met with almost a playoff atmosphere in Pittsburgh. Some compared the event to when Mario Lemieux came out of retirement in 2000. It was announced on Sunday afternoon that Crosby would be playing in this game. There were more reporters than usual in the press box for a Monday night game and Versus changed their previously scheduled game to air the Pens-Isle game instead.
Crosby looked sharp in other areas. He won 14 of 21 faceoffs, had a game-high 8 shots on goal and even blocked a shot. His did all of this in 15:54 of ice time, about six minutes less than last year’s average.
The Blues can’t afford to be looking too far ahead to their game with Crosby and the Pens since they welcome the visiting L.A. Kings to the Scottrade Center tonight. The game starts earlier than usual, at 6:30 PM and will be aired on Versus.
In their previous meeting, the ‘Note fell to the Kings 5-0, although that was during the reign of former head coach Davis Payne. This is the second of four meetings between the teams.
The Blues are undefeated in regulation (4-0-2) under Hitchcock.
In goal for the Blues will be Jaroslav Halak, who Hitchcock said he “likes the way he’s playing. He’s aggressive, he’s making big saves at the right time.” Jonathan Quick will be in net for the Kings. Quick is coming off a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.
On the injury front: T.J. Oshie will be in the lineup after missing two days of practice with a sore wrist. Brett Sterling was called up from Peoria when it appeared Oshie might not be ready. Sterling remains with the team, but is expected to be a healthy scratch.
Carlo Coaiacovo’s sore hamstring has improved, but he won’t start skating until the end of the week.
Barret Jackman will be playing with a black eye after getting hit in the face with a puck during Monday’s practice.