The Eastern Conference's hottest team is about to get even stronger with the return of its superstar.
After missing a little more than three months because of concussion-like symptoms and neck problems, Sidney Crosby returns Thursday night at Madison Square Garden when the Pittsburgh Penguins try to win their 10th straight game and put more heat on the conference-leading New York Rangers.
Pittsburgh (42-21-5) has been one of the NHL's best teams while going 21-4-1 since a six-game skid Dec. 29-Jan. 11. That surge has helped the Penguins move within six points of the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers (44-18-7). The return of Crosby would only seem to make them an even more legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
"It's a great step for him and our hockey team,'' general manager Ray Shero said. "I know our team's been looking forward to having him back in our lineup.''
Crosby was the NHL's biggest star before he suffered hits to the head in consecutive games Jan. 1-5, 2011. He missed the...