Can he still skate? Can he take a hit? Can he play at his nearly peerless level? Can he mix it up? The answer - for the first night anyway - is an emphatic yes.
"I don't really have good words for it," coach Dan Bylsma said. "That was a special in a lot of ways."
For no one more than Crosby, who celebrated his first goal in 328 days in decidedly un-Crosbylike fashion.
After a breathless sprint down the ice in which he weaved through the New York defense and beat rookie Anders Nilsson with a backhand, Crosby raised his arms in triumph and let out a roar punctuated by a hard-to-miss profanity.
He laughed while watching himself on replay and later apologized for his poor choice of words while admitting "I couldn't hold that in."
Crosby added assists on goals by Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik and capped his comeback with a second tally, a backhand that fluttered by Nilsson early in the third period to provide the final margin. Steve Sullivan also scored for the Penguins while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots to collect his 21st career shutout, one behind franchise leader Tom Barrasso.
Nilsson, making just his second start of the season, made 31 saves for New York but was no match as Penguins roared to life with their captain back.
An electric Consol Energy Center crowd greeted Crosby with a deafening roar when he skated onto the ice during warm-ups while "Back in the Saddle Again" blared over the speakers.
Fans held placards reading "Sid" while others brought homemade homages, including one that read "Merry Sid-Mas."
In other games:
* At Washington, Nicklas Backstrom scored early in the third period, then set up Brooks Laich's power-play goal, helping the Capitals rally from a two-goal deficit and edge the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-3. The victory was the 200th of Bruce Boudreau's NHL coaching career.
* At Columbus, Jeff Carter had two goals, Curtis Sanford made 27 saves and the Blue Jackets beat the Calgary Flames, 4-1.
* At Sunrise, Tomas Fleischmann scored at 17:57 in the third period and the Florida Panthers beat New Jersey, 4-3.
* At Montreal, Tim Thomas made 33 saves for his second straight shutout and the Boston Bruins extended their winning streak to nine games with a 1-0 victory over the Canadiens.
* At Dallas, Steve Ott and Michael Ryder scored second-period goals to help the Stars to a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.