WINNIPEG — His first NHL game in Winnipeg is already elevated to event status.

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Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby is aware of the atmosphere at MTS Centre.

GENE PUSKAR / ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby is aware of the atmosphere at MTS Centre.

WINNIPEG — His first NHL game in Winnipeg is already elevated to event status.

And it sounds like Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby knows what he’s in for in his 439th career NHL regular-season game when his team meets the Winnipeg Jets Friday night at the MTS Centre (7 p.m. CT, TSN, TSN1290).

"It’s an exciting atmosphere," Crosby told pittsburghpenguins.com today after the team’s practice at home. "We know they play well there. I played World Junior there for a couple games. It’s exciting. It’s a good building. They’re excited to have hockey there."

Crosby, before he was selected first overall in the 2005 entry draft, was part of the gold-medal-winning Team Canada that trained here and played two exhibition games in the MTS Centre prior to the World Junior in Grand Forks, N.D.

Last season because of the symptoms of concussion, Crosby missed all four games the Penguins played against the Jets.

The final two of those were in the season’s second half in Pittsburgh, when the Jets were trounced twice, 8-5 and 8-4.

"I hadn’t remembered until now," said Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey, feigning some amnesia today. "I pretended like they didn’t exist anymore.

"Obviously you know who’s coming at you from the other side. Those scores, however unfortunate, don’t shock me. There’s no break with their team, we know that. (Evgeni) Malkin won the MVP and Crosby’s recognized as the greatest player in the world. It’s as big a challenge as we’ll face from a D standpoint, with top forwards coming at you, no question."

The Penguins are off to a 2-1 start this season and come to Winnipeg on the heels of their 5-2 home-opener loss against Toronto on Wednesday.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca