Sidney Crosby played his first game at the United Center since his rookie season in 2005-06 and reminded everyone why he is the best player in hockey.
Crosby had a goal and could have had several more in Pittsburgh's 4-3 shootout win over the Blackhawks on Thursday.
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Crosby was aware he hadn't played in Chicago in seven years.
"I think people thought I had the Chicago flu, I hadn't played here in so long," Crosby said. "Obviously, it's a great building and there's a lot of tradition here and a good team. It's an exciting place to play, and I'm happy I had a chance to play here.
"I'd like to do it in the regular season a little bit more, but I guess it might not be for a while."
That's because when the Penguins come to town again March 1, it will be to play the Hawks outdoors at Soldier Field.
"It's always an exciting city to be in," Crosby said. "It's pretty impressive what they've done. To be the only team that's (won two Stanley Cups) since the salary cap is pretty impressive.
"I think the depth and youth they have is a big reason why, but you still have to go out there and perform, and they've been able to do that."
Crosby played 23:24 and was 12-8 on faceoffs. He was stopped by Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin in the shootout after failing to score on a breakaway in regulation.
"He's one of those players around the league people want to see," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's a special player, a premier player -- you could argue one, two or three (best in the league).
"He does a lot of things that can get you excited. The fact that he hasn't played here in that long is pretty amazing."
Patrick Sharp, Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig scored for the Hawks, who are 1-0-1 in the preseason. Smith's goal, his second in as many games, was short-handed.
In what the Hawks hope is not a preview of things to come this season with Marian Hossa and his wonky back, the right winger aggravated an upper-body injury and won't play at all until at least next weekend.
Hossa's back sidelined him for Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Final when a pinched nerve in a disk made his right foot go numb. He participated in the first scrimmages of camp at Notre Dame last weekend and was one of the best players on the ice.
Quenneville is hoping Hossa can play in the final preseason game Sept. 28 against Washington and be ready to start the season Oct. 1 against the Capitals.
In addition to missing the first two preseason games, Hossa won't play Friday at Washington, Sunday at Detroit and Monday at Pittsburgh.
"We're probably going to keep him out," Quenneville said. "I wouldn't expect him in the next (three) games, but we'll see how it progresses. He was skating pretty good and we liked the way he was playing and moving out there, but that's where we're at. We feel he'll be back and be fine."
Ryan Hartman, the No. 1 draft pick from West Dundee, made his Hawks debut Thursday. Hartman, a big Blackhawks fan growing up, was looking forward to being on the ice for the national anthem.
"It's going to be pretty cool because the fans get crazy during that," he said. "It's going to be nerve-wracking at first, but once the game starts things will even out."
Hartman still is trying to work his way back from off-season shoulder surgery.
"There's obviously still that little mental block there," he said. "If I'm coming down the right side, I might think of laying off. I just have to get over that mental block, and I think I have the last few days."
Jonathan Toews will make the trip to Washington and likely will play Friday against the Capitals, Joel Quenneville said. … Rookie Antti Raanta starts in goal. … Brandon Pirri practiced Thursday but couldn't finish because of a lower-body injury that is hurting his chance of making the team. "He's still in the mix," Quenneville said. …
Defenseman Mike Kostka, hurt when he was run headfirst into the boards from behind by Detroit's Teemu Pulkkinen on Tuesday, didn't skate Thursday and is considered day to day. Pulkkinen received a four-game suspension from the league for the hit.