News

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has concussion, out for Game 4

Written by Will Graves/Associated Press | May 2, 2017 1:28 PM
sidney_crosby_concussion.jpg

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) lies on the ice after taking a hit from Washington Capitals' Matt Niskanen during the first period of Game 3 in an NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

An earlier story appears below.

(Pittsburgh) --The scene brought back jarring memories. Sidney Crosby woozily making his way off the ice after taking a brutal hit from a member of the Washington Capitals. His brain foggy. His immediate future uncertain.

The sight of their captain slowly heading to the dressing room on Monday night following a violent cross-check to the jaw from Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen left his teammates shaken.

The diagnosis came the next morning: Crosby is sidelined indefinitely with yet another concussion.

For goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Crosby's nomadic two-year recovery from a concussion sustained after taking a shoulder to the head by Capitals forward David Steckel in 2011 remains fresh.

It's why Fleury's concern as the defending Stanley Cup champions prepared for Wednesday's Game 4 of their increasingly caustic Eastern Conference semifinal against the Capitals wasn't so much on how Pittsburgh will survive without its most indispensable player, but Crosby's general well-being.

"It's a tough moment for sure," Fleury said. "You know, you care a lot about him ... We've been friends for a long time. I know he's always devoted to the team. He's always working hard out there. Hoping he feels better soon and see him smile again."

Crosby spent part of Tuesday at the team's training facility being evaluated. Barely 12 hours removed from a hit that sent a jolt across the league and provided a stark reminder of Crosby's concussion history, the game's best player tried to focus on pushing forward instead of looking back.

"He's very upbeat and he's very positive," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're very optimistic and we're hopeful that we'll get him back in a timely fashion."

Just not in time to try and help the Penguins build on the 2-1 lead they take into Game 4 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Sullivan declined to speculate on Crosby's availability beyond Game 4.

"The nature of these things is they're all very different," Sullivan said. "Sometimes they come around quickly. Other times they don't."

Crosby would know. He missed the second half of the 2010-11 season and most of 2011-12 following the hit by Steckel. He sat out two weeks after being diagnosed with a concussion last October, returning in time to play in 75 games and score an NHL-high 44 goals.

Pittsburgh forward Conor Sheary could also be out of the lineup on Wednesday after being diagnosed with a concussion following a collision with teammate Patric Hornqvist, leaving the Penguins in a familiar position: trying to win without some of the bold-faced names that helped them capture the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup last June. Goaltender Matt Murray and defenseman Kris Letang are already out, absences Crosby's brilliance has helped the Penguins overcome.

This, however, is something different.

"You can't replace (Crosby) but I think we've shown that through the season whenever the guy's not there, other guys have to step up," Fleury said. "And we're lucky to have depth on our team. I think we have enough to win games."

Niskanen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct after his stick caught his former teammate across the jaw. He will play after the league decided against holding a hearing to review the incident.

Washington coach Barry Trotz called it "the right decision" while stressing the cross-check was "a hockey play."

Fleury said the Penguins can't get caught up in trying to retaliate, though Washington expects Pittsburgh to ramp up the physical play going forward.

"It should be nasty," Washington forward Jay Beagle said. "It's the playoffs. That's the way we like to play. That's the way they like to play. Hard hits. Going after each other."

Even without Crosby, the Penguins won't lack for star power. As if sensing a change in the dynamic of the series, Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin went back out for a brief postgame skate on Monday night and was one of a handful of regulars who showed up for an optional skate on Tuesday.

Malkin won the Hart Trophy in 2012, the same season in which Crosby was limited to just 22 games. The Russian has a way of raising his game with Crosby out. The Penguins will need him to do it again if they want to survive without Crosby.

"He does things with the puck like no one else," Hornqvist said. "He looks like he's playing loose. He's a hell of a player. We're looking forward to tomorrow and get the win."

(Pittsburgh) -- Sidney Crosby walked around the Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility on Tuesday, trying to encourage his teammates as they prepared to go forward in their increasingly caustic playoff series against Washington without their captain and the game's most indispensable player.

The Pittsburgh star is out for Wednesday's Game 4 while recovering from yet another concussion, this one coming from being cross-checked in the head by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in the first period of Washington's 3-2 overtime victory on Monday night.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby will be evaluated on a daily basis going forward. There is no timetable for the two-time MVP's return.

"He's very positive and we're very optimistic and we're hopeful that we'll get him back in a timely fashion," Sullivan said.

The defending Stanley Cup champions lead the series 2-1, an advantage they built thanks in large part to Crosby. He scored twice in Game 1 and dished out a pair of assists in a blowout victory in Game 2 to give Pittsburgh control in a meeting of the longtime rivals who finished the regular season with the two best records in the NHL.

All that momentum vanished 5:24 into the first period Monday when Crosby was knocked off balance by Washington's Alex Ovechkin as Crosby skated in front of the Capitals' crease.

Niskanen, who played with Crosby for four years in Pittsburgh before signing with Washington in 2014, turned toward Crosby. Niskanen's stick caught Crosby flush across the right side of the head and the defenseman kept his hands on Crosby as the star fell to the ice before skating away. Crosby was on the ice for several minutes before slowly making his way to the dressing room under his own power. Niskanen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

The league decided against holding a hearing to determine whether the hit should be subject to review from the NHL's Department of Player Safety. Niskanen said following the game the hit was not intentional, with coach Barry Trotz calling it "a hockey play."

The Penguins opted against trying to litigate the fallout, focusing instead on Crosby's well-being.

"My thoughts don't really matter," said Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury , teammates with Crosby for over a decade. "It doesn't change anything. Doesn't matter what I say. I really hope that Sid feels good."

Crosby has dealt with multiple concussions during his career, including one against Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic that he needed nearly two years to fully recover from. He missed the first couple weeks of this season with a concussion but returned to lead the NHL in goals, part of a remarkable run that saw him lead the Penguins to the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup last summer while earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

The Penguins have become adept at surviving the loss of bold-faced names this season. Pittsburgh posted the second-best record in franchise history with defenseman Kris Letang missing half the season various injuries, center Evgeni Malkin sitting 20 games with various issues and goaltender Matt Murray going out before Game 1 of Pittsburgh's first-round series against Columbus after tweaking a lower-body injury.

"If Sid is not playing ... it's a loss for us," Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said. "We need other guys to step up and we've been doing that all year."

The stakes, however, are high. Washington controlled Game 3 before the Penguins scored twice in the final 2 minutes to force overtime. The Capitals survived when Kevin Shattenkirk flipped a shot from the point by Fleury 3:13 into overtime.

Washington expects Pittsburgh to ramp up the physical play in Game 4 even as Fleury warned about the dangers of trying to retaliate. The Capitals insist they'll be ready.

"It should be nasty," Washington forward Jay Beagle said. "It's the playoffs. That's the way we like to play. That's the way they like to play. Hard hits. Going after each other."

Pittsburgh forward Conor Sheary is also dealing with a concussion after colliding with teammate Patric Hornqvist in the second period Monday night. Sheary's status for Game 4 was uncertain.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Pittsburgh) -- Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against Washington.

Crosby left in the first period of Monday night's 3-2 overtime loss to Washington after being viciously cross-checked in the head by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen.

Niskanen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

The league decided against holding a hearing to determine whether the hit should be subject to review from the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

Niskanen said following the game the hit was not intentional.

Crosby has dealt with multiple concussions during his career, including one against Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic that he needed nearly two years to fully recover from.

The two-time MVP also missed the first couple weeks of this season with a concussion but returned to lead the NHL in goals.

The Penguins lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is tomorrow night.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »