The Pittsburgh Penguins may be ready to welcome back one of their superstars. The New York Islanders will have to get by without one of theirs for awhile.
Sidney Crosby may play Tuesday for the first time in four games when the Penguins meet the Islanders (12-7-3), who will be playing their first game without Alexei Yashin.
The 19-year-old Crosby, who is tied for fifth in the league with 30 points, hasn't played since injuring his groin during a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Nov. 20 in which he had a goal and an assist.
"It felt better," Crosby said after practice Monday. "It was good to get a chance to practice, and I'm not feeling much pain. We will see how I feel (Tuesday), but I was happy with the way it felt today."
With Crosby out of the lineup, Pittsburgh (10-8-4) has dropped three in a row - once in regulation, overtime and in a shootout - and has scored only five total goals in that span.
As a rookie in 2005-06, Crosby missed only one game because of flu-like symptoms. He finished sixth in the league with 102 points, and was runner-up to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin as rookie of the year.
Crosby had three assists in Pittsburgh's 4-3 overtime win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 19. He's had points in eight of nine career games versus New York, totaling six goals and 11 assists.
The Penguins have won five of those games, dropping the other four in shootouts.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin - a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy this season - scored his 12th goal and 22nd point to lead all rookies. But Marc-Andre Fleury gave up a goal to former Penguin Jaromir Jagr in the third period, and the game-winner to Martin Straka with 2.2 seconds left in the extra session.
Pittsburgh had two chances in overtime to end the game. About 30 seconds in, Malkin's backhand attempt into a vacated net rang off the post.
"We could have won the game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "We're talking about 2 inches, and we could win the game."
Rookie Jordan Staal then was awarded a penalty shot with 1:20 to play, but the puck trickled off his stick as he skated in on Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Yashin, the Islanders' leading scorer with 10 goals and 18 assists in 22 games, will miss at least two weeks and could be sidelined for up to a month with a sprained right knee suffered in a 4-1 win over Washington on Saturday.
Yashin had two assists, giving him three goals and five assists in a five-game points streak.
"It's a big loss, no doubt, especially with Yash playing so well," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said Monday. "It's up to everyone else to step up their games and take advantage of the opportunities they're provided."
One player who could step up is Miroslav Satan, who had a goal and an assist in New York's 3-1 home win over Pittsburgh on Friday. Satan, who has points in four straight games against the Penguins, needs one goal for 300 and one point for 600 in his career.
The Islanders are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, and 12-4-3 since starting the season with three straight losses.