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Published: Sat, May 06, 2017
Sport | By Dustin Murphy

Concussed Crosby skates with Penguins, no word on return

Concussed Crosby skates with Penguins, no word on return

Shot-blocking is still an essential part of playoff hockey, though the risk-reward value of the time-honored tradition filled with bruises and broken bones is being questioned like never before. He missed the first six games of this season because of a concussion.

But right now, the furthest thing from the minds of the Penguins is the next round. Stream every single game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Sportsnet NOW. "Hard hits. Going after each other". This happened because the National Hockey League allowed it to happen. The Capitals showed some mettle in battling past the young Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round but the Penguins are not the Maple Leafs. That's the way they like to play. They will have to continue on, as they have done so many times without Crosby in the lineup.

That's the good news for the Penguins. Niskanen's stick caught Crosby flush across the right side of the head and the defenceman kept his hands on Crosby as the star fell to the ice before skating away.

"I didn't play my game at all tonight", he told reporters.

Pittsburgh was 1 of 12 on the power play in the series to that point and was without Crosby, defenseman Kris Letang (neck surgery) and winger Conor Sheary (concussion).

Crosby took line rushes with wingers Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist. But here's the thing with the Penguins.

Well, they had better be ready.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said his players must reset their thinking, knowing they'll be facing a desperate team.

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James and the Cavaliers will win yet another championship and he once again will be saying "Cleveland, this is for you". Much like the series so far, this game was filled with high emotion and action that came down to the final seconds.

But they didn't respond with a retaliatory check. But they also are aware it's happened twice in the past three years - once to them. The Penguins scored a total of three goals in their final three losses, another in a string of playoff failures that led to the firing of general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma later that spring. So getting on the ice isn't the end-all, be-all, but it surely is a sign that Crosby (for today at least) has limited symptoms to be able to skate. The Capitals were called for seven penalties in total, including one by Ovechkin's top line buddy TJ Oshie that effectively killed any chance of a Washington comeback.

Game 4 should have a lot of the emotion of Game 3. As good as he has been in the playoffs, he's going to have to be better. While the Capitals lead once again in shots 38-19 - and they lead the series shot total 142-94 - the Penguins kept them out of any high danger areas while Marc-Andre Fleury took care of the rest.

They could also get creative, though, and make some wholesale changes.

Crosby, a finalist for this year's Hart Trophy awarded to the NHL's most valuable player, has a history of serious head injuries. The defensive tandem of Ron Hainsey and Brian Dumoulin has emerged as the Penguins' shutdown unit and will have to continue their unspectacular, but vital play.

To this you can add: Is there anyone who has said no to Crosby except former Penguins employees?

Ovechkin has one goal in four games against the Penguins. But they can continue to sting them with their speed game.

Crosby is in the concussion protocol, according to Sullivan, and listed as day-to-day.

They can do this without Crosby.

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