It's only fitting that on "Pittsburgh Theme Night," one of the most prolific players to ever lace the skates up in the Steel City will return to the Penguins lineup.
Out since undergoing core muscle surgery to repair a sports hernia on Nov. 14, captain Sidney Crosby announced on Tuesday morning his return to the lineup after a 28-game absence.
"I'm playing tonight," he told reporters. "Happy to be back in the lineup."
Crosby returns to a team that went 18-6-4 since he was injured Nov. 9 against the Chicago Blackhawks and sits six just points behind the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Crosby out for the morning skate. -DP pic.twitter.com/xh9wYMWnEt— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) January 14, 2020
Named Sporting News' NHL Athlete of the Decade for the 2010s, Crosby had netted 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 17 games. In 960 career games, he has posted a mind-blowing 1,233 points, 444 of which have come on the power play. Crosby's return should bolster the Penguins' time with the man advantage; they currently are tied for 19th in the NHL at 18.9 percent.
"Hard to put into words how big of an addition Crosby is to our lineup," head coach Mike Sullivan told reporters. "It's exciting to have him back. His on-ice play has the ability to change the outcomes of games. He's a difference-maker. I'm sure he's every bit as excited to come back in the lineup."
At Tuesday's morning skate, Crosby was slotted between Jared McCann and Dominik Simon. Joseph Blandisi was sent down in a corresponding move.