Not even missing the Pittsburgh Penguins' last 12 regular-season games was enough to keep captain Sidney Crosby from being named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, given to the NHL's regular-season MVP.
Crosby had 56 points in 35 games when he took a deflected puck in the face on March 30 against the New York Islanders. He lost some teeth and needed surgery for a broken jaw, sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season.
Despite missing the last quarter of the season, Crosby joined Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and John Tavares of the New York Islanders as the three finalists.
"It's definitely an honor," he told Penguins TV on Friday after the finalists were announced. "I think to be recognized for any award is a huge compliment and honor. Coming off a couple years of not playing a lot of games, I was really trying to go out there and have a good year. It's great to have that honor, and we'll see what happens."
More important to Crosby right now is finding a way to eliminate the Islanders in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Crosby's highlight-reel goal highlighted Pittsburgh's 4-0 victory in Game 5, but with the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007 and needing a win to stay alive, he knows it won't be easy -- especially at what's sure to be an extremely loud Nassau Coliseum.
"This is always the toughest one, the fourth one," Crosby said. "They've played good hockey here. It's going to take our best to finish off the series. Last night's game was a good step for us -- we feel like that's the way we need to play to finish it off."