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Crosby makes pro debut in Wilkes-Barre

Alexei Zhamnov‘s goal with 57 seconds remaining in overtime allowed the Boston Bruins to pull out a 5-4 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in NHL preseason action Wednesday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza, home of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

But the final score was secondary to a minor piece of hockey history being made. Number-one overall draft pick Sidney Crosby suited up for his first professional game, picking up an assist on Mark Recchi‘s first-period tally and drawing huge applause from the Wilkes-Barre crowd.

It wasn’t all bad luck for the local team’s parent club, as Pittsburgh took a 2-1 win in the preseason shootout, which is being held after every exhibition contest, regardless of outcome, in an effort to give fans a taste of action to come this season.

The game showed just how serious NHL officials are about enforcing the new rules for hooking and holding, with a combined 26 penalties being called on the night (11 against Pittsburgh, 15 against Boston).

The Penguins also showed how potent their power play could be this season with the addition of a slew of offensive talent. Three of the Pens’ four goals came on the man advantage, with free agent signees Recchi, Sergei Gonchar and Zigmund Palffy all netting PP tallies.

The Bruins were equally adept at scoring on the power play, with Brad Boyes, Patrice Bergeron and Zhamnov all scoring while up a man.

Bergeron and Gonchar put on the most impressive displays of the evening, with the Bruins youngster and 2005 AHL All-Star registering four points (2+2) and the Pittsburgh blueliner and 1994 Calder Cup champion grabbing three (1+2).

Jocelyn Thibault stopped 28 of 33 shots during his 64-plus minutes between the pipes, while Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen combined to make 27 saves for the Bruins.