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Hold your tears on Crosby's comeback - he couldn't lose

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins waves after being selected as number one star of the game at Consol Energy Center.

Justin K. Aller/2011 Getty Images

Of course Sidney Crosby was going to be successful.

After all, how could he lose?

Before getting all teary-eyed about No. 87's triumphant return to the National Hockey League on Monday night, keep in mind there were a couple of factors at play here that no doubt helped his cause.

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First, his team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, remain a very good NHL club by anyone's standard, even without Crosby in the lineup.

Pittsburgh was 11-6-3 without Crosby's electrifying presence and the Penguins' record ties them for the best overall mark in the NHL so far this season. And Pittsburgh has only lost once in nine games at home this season.

Into this cauldron skated the Islanders who have yet to win an NHL road game this season and whose overall record of 5-10-3 ranks them among the league's bottom feeders.

The Islanders almost seemed in awe at times at the situation they unwittingly found themselves, which only provided Crosby, with his lightning-quick offensive capabilities, ample opportunity to shine.

Pittsburgh's next four outings against the St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers will provide a better barometer in which to measure Crosby.

Still, Monday's event injected a welcome dose of vibrancy to what otherwise was shaping up to be another hum-drum early regular-season contest and Crosby did his part to entertain the masses.

More than 250 press credentials -- about four times the usual number -- were issued for the game.

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Crosby's four-point night came off just 15 minutes, 54 seconds of ice time, winning 14 of 21 faceoffs.

It was a given that Crosby would appear a little tentative in his first game in almost 11 months, recovering from a debilitating concussion.

There would be the rust factor, of course, not to mention playing in front of a pent-up, placard-waving home-town gathering that would only heighten the 24-year-old's anxiety level.

So after getting the first two shifts out of the way, Crosby got down to business, finding the back of the net at precisely 5:24 of the first period off a rising backhand shot that would have veteran hockey observer Howie Meeker nodding with approval.

Sid the Kid would finish with two goals and two assists as Pittsburgh routed the New York Islanders 5-0.

And don't look now, Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Crosby is just 25 points behind you in the National Hockey League scoring race.

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"He's going to get even better," Penguins defenceman Zbynek Michalek told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game. "That's the scary thing."

Overall, that's a pretty good indication that Crosby is on the road to recovery.

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