What it means: The Islanders were a mere afterthought in league superstar Sidney Crosby's captivating return. The Penguins captain showed little rust in his first game back after missing 10 months with post-concussion symptoms, scoring two goals and two assists against an outclassed Islanders club that has now dropped 12 of its last 14 games. Crosby's dazzling performance buried the sputtering Islanders 5-0 in the team's second straight shutout loss and fifth of the season. The flailing squad remains dead last in the Eastern Conference standings with a dreadful 5-10-3 record and have yet to record a win on the road this season.
The Captain is back: Crosby wasted no time in reminding hockey fans what they had been missing. Less than six minutes into the first period, Crosby beat Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson on a rush with a top-shelf backhander for his first goal since Dec. 28, 2010. Sid the Kid notched his second of the night early in the third to give the Penguins a 5-0 lead. Crosby also picked up two assists -- setting up Brooks Orpik’s one-timer at 16:29 of the first and drawing a secondary assist on Evgeni Malkin’s power-play goal at 3:17 in the second.
Last time around: The last time Crosby faced the Islanders, they snapped his 25-game, 50-point streak in a 2-1 shootout win in Long Island on Dec. 29, 2010. Goaltender Rick DiPietro made 37 saves in the game and blanked Crosby and Mark Letestu in the shootout.
Flower power: Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for his 21st career shutout, and second of the season (both came against the Islanders).
Nilsson in net: It was a rough night for Nilsson, the young Swedish goaltender who made his first NHL start under challenging circumstances in the raucous Consol Energy Center. The 21-year-old, who played two periods Saturday in relief of Rick DiPietro, gave up a goal on the first shot he faced and let in four more throughout the game.
Man down: The Islanders lost defenseman Mark Eaton early in the second period after the former Penguin collided with Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke. Eaton suffered a sprained left knee on the play and will be evaluated further Tuesday.
Ullstrom’s NHL debut: Following a wretched 6-0 loss to Boston on Saturday, Jack Capuano ripped the team and indicated that personnel changes were looming. Enter David Ullstrom. The 22-year-old center was called up Sunday and made his NHL debut against the Penguins. Ullstrom is tied for the team lead in Bridgeport with 12 goals and two assists in 17 games for the Sound Tigers.
Okposo on board: Scratched for the last three games, Kyle Okposo returned to the lineup in Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old assistant captain was benched following a 14-game goalless streak. With his return and Ullstrom’s recall, Blake Comeau and Nino Niederreiter were scratched. Comeau has been held off the scoresheet in all 15 games played this season, and Niederreiter was given a game off after playing six in nine nights. Defenseman Mike Mottau was also scratched.
Up next: Islanders vs. Flyers, Wednesday at 7 p.m.