Sidney Crosby injured in Iginla's first game

Referee Ian Walsh tries to help Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby who was hit in the face with a...

Referee Ian Walsh tries to help Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby who was hit in the face with a puck in the first period of their NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:05 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed one star to the lineup and lost one Saturday.

After Jarome Iginla, acquired Thursday in a stunning trade, made his debut against the New York Islanders, captain and NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby was on his way to hospital after taking a shot in the face on his first shift of the game.

Through it all, the Penguins prevailed 2-0 over the Islanders for their 15th-straight win and the first undefeated month in NHL history (with a minimum of 10 games played).

The Penguins tied the 1982 Islanders for the second-longest winning streak in NHL history. The record is 17 games by the Penguins in 1992-93.

It remains to be seen if the Penguins will have to chase the record without their captain.

The club announced only that Crosby would not return to the game after taking a puck to the face.

Crosby was standing to the right of the Islanders net when it looked like a shot by Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik changed direction off Islanders winger Brad Boyes and struck Crosby square in the mouth. Crosby’s stick went flying as he collapsed to the ice face down and there was a trail of blood after he was helped to his feet and skated off.

Penguins forward Matt Cooke, who gave the team some dazzling penalty killing during a five-minute major to Chris Kunitz for checking from behind (which included almost two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Islanders), spun and fired a shot by Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov at 8:10 of the third to give the Penguins the lead.

James Neal made it 2-0 at 13:04. The Penguins haven't given up a goal in 208 minutes and 24 seconds.

Despite travel that didn’t see Iginla get here until 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, he made his first appearance.

Iginla, acquired from the Calgary Flames for two collegiate players and a first-round draft pick, started the game on the left wing with Evgeni Malkin at centre and James Neal on the right side. Neal and Iginla switched wings often during the game.

“I slept pretty good. It was a short one. It was an early morning,” said Iginla, who received a coupe of nice ovations from the Penguins fans. “It was great to be here with the guys. It’s hard to believe the game is coming right here right away. The coach said I could play today and I’m thrilled about that. Fortunately I got here last night and I’m thrilled to get the chance.

“It would be tough (to sit out) and then we don’t play for a while, there’s a break. It felt a little bit weird the last few days, the transition, kind of being in limbo and waiting,” he added. “It’s great to just get here and be a part of the team and get back on the ice and get back playing. I’m looking forward to that.”

After playing most of his 16 years with the Flames on the right wing, Iginla said it’s not that big a deal to switch to the left side.

“I played over my career, in Calgary, I remember way back I came in and switched wings and had a chance to play with Theo Fleury. He was the right winger and I switched to left. So at different times I’ve played left. I’m very happy to try it and I think I can do it. Whatever Dan thinks, I look forward to trying it. It’s a lot easier than trying to shift to centre. Right or left isn’t that much different.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson

 


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