The adrenaline will have abated since his successful comeback at Madison Square Garden but Sidney Crosby will face another stern test Saturday as the Penguins travel to New Jersey to face the Devils.
Crosby will play against the Devils in the second of a three-games-in-four-nights stretch that includes Sunday's match in Philadelphia before Pittsburgh returns home to face Winnipeg.
As intended when he mapped out his return following a 40-game absence with post-concussion symptoms, Crosby said he will play all four games. And though he recorded two assists and posted a plus-3 rating in Thursday's 5-2 win against the Rangers, his surging Penguins squad has struggled recently in New Jersey. The Devils have limited them to three goals in the first two games at Prudential Center this season, ten goals over the last eight games spanning the past three seasons.
"It’s just the way they play; they’re pretty stingy," Crosby said after practice Friday. "They're committed to playing that way and they stick with it. It's just trying to find those second opportunities, find ways to put it in. There's no special thing you have to do. You just have to do all those little things and find pucks around the net. [Goaltender Martin] Brodeur has played well against us -- that’s the main reason why -- but we still have to find places to put it in."
Pulling within four points of the Rangers Thursday in the division, the Penguins have the opportunity to put some separation between themselves and the Devils and Flyers this weekend in the Atlantic Divison.
"Whenever there is something extra on the line, you always look forward to those," Crosby said. "But just being in the routine in general - being in games, around the guys and preparing -- you miss that, so to get that back a bit here has been a lot of fun and exciting."
Playing on a third line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke and manning the point on the team's first power-play unit, Crosby logged 16 minutes in his first game back since December 5. He'll likely play somewhere in that range against the Devils as well.
"I felt pretty good at 16 [minutes], that's probably the perfect number," Crosby said. "With all the adrenaline and things like that, the games that fall after sometimes can be a ltitle bit tougher. I'll probably stick right around there and see how things go, but sometimes it's really out of your control."