Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series tied 1-1

Game 1: Wednesday, November 23rd
Game 2: Tuesday, January 24th

Blues 3

(11-8-2, 24 pts)

Penguins 2

(12-6-4, 28 pts)

7:00 PM ET, November 23, 2011

CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 OT T
STL 1 0 1 13
PIT 0 0 2 02

J. Langenbrunner (Blues - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

E. Malkin (Penguins - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

A. Pietrangelo (Blues - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Blues-Penguins Preview


Sidney Crosby looked so good after a 10-month layoff that it's hard to imagine what he might do after being off for just one day.

The hockey world is surely anxious to see what the superstar will do for an encore Wednesday night when the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins host the St. Louis Blues.

Crosby didn't waste any time proving a 10-month layoff due to concussion-like symptoms had no adverse effect on his superior skill set, registering two goals and two assists in his season debut Tuesday, a 5-0 romp over the overmatched New York Islanders.

The Penguins (12-6-3) captain staked his team to a 1-0 lead at 5:24 of the first period and assisted on goals by Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin before closing the scoring early in the third.

"I don't really have good words for it," coach Dan Bylsma said. "That was a special in a lot of ways."

Most importantly, Crosby said he woke up Tuesday feeling tired and emotionally drained but without any of the "fogginess" that kept him sidelined for nearly a year after sustaining head shots in consecutive games last January.

Although he will continue to be monitored, Crosby doesn't expect to check in with his medical team each day to give them an update.

"Unless there's really something I need to go to them for I don't see it being a constant thing," said Crosby, who joined teammates in a spirited hour-long practice Tuesday.

Crosby's return marked only the third time in Pittsburgh's last 103 games that he and fellow centers Malkin and Jordan Staal played together.

"The bench is much different with all three of them on the bench," Bylsma told the team's official website. "It's a lot different with those three guys. You have three guys that are going to play 20 minutes a game."

Understandably overshadowed by Crosby's return was the Penguins' sixth straight home win. They have outscored opponents 24-8 during that span with Marc-Andre Fleury going 6-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average and his 21st career shutout, one behind franchise leader Tom Barrasso.

St. Louis (10-8-2) should present Pittsburgh with a more difficult test than the lowly Islanders, but the Blues have lost four in a row on the road despite a 4-1-2 overall mark since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach.

Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka scored in the Blues' 3-2 defeat to Los Angeles on Tuesday, just their second regulation home loss this season.

"I think the last two games in the last two periods, we've probably come off it a little bit in the third period," Hitchcock said. "We've kind of been the team making a few mistakes."

After Jaroslav Halak started Tuesday, Hitchcock could go with Brian Elliott against the Penguins. Elliott is 7-1-0 with a league-leading 1.43 GAA, and has allowed three total goals during a personal three-game win streak.

Hitchcock's defense-first system is having the desired effect on St. Louis, which has surrendered 11 goals in seven games since the coaching change after allowing 35 in 13 contests under the fired Davis Payne.

The Blues could be without center T.J. Oshie after he was checked hard into the corner boards by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty at the end of Tuesday's loss. Oshie -- tied for the team lead with 14 points -- skated off with a trainer holding his left shoulder and head.

The Penguins are 2-0-1 in their last three meetings with the Blues, falling 1-0 in overtime on the road Oct. 23, 2010.

Crosby has no goals and four assists in five career games versus St. Louis, one of four teams against which he has yet to score.