COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Sidney Crosby left the Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-2 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets early in the first period Thursday night because of a groin injury that the team said wasn't believed to be serious.
Crosby played three shifts totaling 1 minute, 37 seconds before skating to the bench about 5 minutes into the game.
"It's better to stay off it. I'm hoping for just a few days," Crosby said. "I've hurt my groin before. It's not as bad. I think I missed five games with one last year. It's just something you have to be careful with."
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said he wasn't concerned when Crosby left the bench and walked through the tunnel to the dressing room.
"It was more precautionary than anything else," Bylsma said. "It's been tight for a couple of days."
Crosby hopes to play in the final preseason game Sunday at Detroit in a rematch of the last season's Stanley Cup Final won by the Penguins.
"Tomorrow (Friday) I won't skate, but Saturday I'll try to get on the ice for however long and test it out," he said. "It's kind of a day-by-day thing. I'd love to play Sunday. That's what I hope but really don't know with groins. I'm cautious about it but I'm not worried.
"It was sore. We all deal with sore groins this time of the year, especially in camp. Usually once you warm up it gets better. I felt it was getting more sore."
He isn't sure if the three-hour bus ride to Columbus contributed to the injury.
"When you're sitting there it's tightening up," he said. "It's probably not the best for it but I don't think it's the sole reason. It probably didn't help."
Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash each had a goal and an assist, and Michael Blunden and Derek MacKenzie also scored for Columbus. Evgeni Malkin scored the Penguins' first goal and assisted on Nate Guenin's short-handed goal.
Columbus left wing Kristian Huselius and defenseman Mike Commodore did not play because of the flu and might miss the final preseason games Saturday and Sunday.
Columbus improved to 3-2-1, while Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh dropped to 1-3-1.