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Crosby helps Penguins rally past Panthers in season debut

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby made his much-anticipated season debut Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena and helped the Penguins muster up a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers in the process.

The win improves the Penguins’ record to 4-2-1 on the young season.

“We started off behind the 8-ball there getting down, but we stayed in it and had a big second half,” Crosby said to reporters following the game, his first for the Penguins since hoisting the Stanley Cup in San Jose in June.

Crosby even helped his own cause, scoring a power-play goal to put the Penguins on the board midway through the second period.

The Penguins didn’t make it easy on themselves in this one.  Florida jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after a power-play goal from Reilly Smith and an even-strength goal courtesy of Mark Pysyk.  Those goals were the first of the year for each player.

After Crosby’s goal made it a 2-1 game, Carl Hagelin knocked in a shot about five minutes into the final frame, followed by an Eric Fehr game-winner with assists coming from linemates Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Cullen.

The two teams were even in several major categories, matching each other in shots, hits, giveaways and takeaways.  Pittsburgh led the game in penalty minutes with eight compared to Florida’s four, while the Panthers won 28 faceoffs opposed to the Penguins’ 25.

Marc-Andre Fleury was solid in goal for the Penguins, stopping 20 of 22 shots for a .909 save percentage.  On the other end of the ice, Florida’s James Reimer stopped 19 of 22 shots for a .864 save percentage.

The Penguins have now tallied nine points on the year, as opposed to Florida’s seven.  The Panthers’ record falls to 3-2-1 with the loss.

The Penguins will be back in action in Pittsburgh once again Thursday night when they host the New York Islanders.  Faceoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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