Kris Letang sat out 21 games while recovering from a concussion.

It wasn't easy, especially when his teammates were struggling, but Letang realized that neither he nor the Penguins would benefit if he tried to come back too quickly.

"You need your head for the rest of your life," he said Thursday. "It was just a question of feeling good and being confident I can do the job out there."

Letang, one of the NHL's top defensemen, returned to the lineup a few hours later when the Penguins faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.