Crosby boost for Penguins after concussion
New York (AFP) – Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby gave his team a lift on Friday, returning to practice just days after a concussion that placed a question mark over his availability in the NHL playoffs.
Crosby was poleaxed by a hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen during Game 3 of their series, which the Penguins now lead 3-1 heading into Game 5 on Saturday.
But the Canadian star was fit to play a full part in practice and may even play on Saturday. Crosby said he would assess his fitness on game-day.
“Having gone through this, I’d like to think I’m pretty aware of my body at this point,” Crosby told reporters. “I understand the importance of making sure you’re good before you come back. I have a lot of belief in our staff here. … I trust them. I trust the process you have to go through.”
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan was also cautious about the possibility of Crosby playing on Saturday.
“He’s day to day,” Sullivan said. “We’ll see how he responds and we’ll go from there. Right now, his status hasn’t changed at all.”
Crosby’s concussion occurred when he was thrown off balance by Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin before being clobbered by Niskanen.
Crosby said he had no problem with the challenge from Ovechkin but would not speculate on whether he believed Niskanen’s check was intentional. Niskanen, who was given a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct for the incident, has denied trying to hurt Crosby.
“(Ovechkin) is just trying to prevent a goal. That’s a pretty common play,” Crosby said Friday. “There are different levels of how hard, but that’s standard as far as going to the net with the puck, guys are trying to prevent you from shooting. The other play (with Niskanen) is hard to say. I’m not going to sit here and guess. It’s not one that happens too often.”