October 08, 1997 12:00 AM

Pittsburgh Penguin Mario Lemieux made a historic return to hockey last night, descending from the Mellon Arena owner’s box to score a goal and two assists in a 5-0 Penguins blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I was a little surprised by the way I played,” said the six-time scoring champion who retired 3 1/2 years ago at the age of 31 following years of health problems that included treatment with cancer radiation therapy. “It was a great moment, the kind of moment I will cherish for a long time.” And the fans went wild. Said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about Wednesday’s triumph for “Super Mario”: “It was a great night.”

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