PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby returned to the ice Thursday, three days after sustaining a concussion.
During a scheduled day off for the Penguins, Crosby skated on his own at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, coach Mike Sullivan said. Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen concussed Crosby with a cross-check to the side of the head 5:24 into the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Monday.
Crosby did not play in Game 4 Wednesday, when the Penguins won 3-2 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Sullivan did not elaborate on Crosby's availability for Game 5 at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, SN).
"He's in the process of rehabbing," Sullivan said. "We'll leave it at that.
"It's a day-to-day process. We're taking each day as it comes."
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Crosby exits with injury early in 1st
The trajectory of Crosby's recovery appears similar to how his condition progressed after the concussion he sustained during a practice Oct. 7. He missed a preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets the following day but participated in Pittsburgh's Fan Fest event Oct. 9.
Four days after that concussion, Crosby skated alone when the Penguins practiced Oct. 11. He skated alone again and joined practice Oct. 12, one day before the regular-season opener against the Capitals.
Crosby missed that game against Washington and the following five games before making his season debut against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 25, when he scored one goal. He scored four goals in his first three games this season.
Sullivan would not say if the process Crosby is going through is similar to the one Pittsburgh utilized throughout his recovery in October.
"We really rely on our medical staff in that regard," Sullivan said. "These guys advise us and they're very good at what they do. He is in the process right now and will continue to be. It will continue to be a day-to-day evaluation, and we'll go from there."
In 75 regular-season games, Crosby led the NHL with 44 goals. His 89 points were tied for second with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and were 11 points behind Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (100).
Crosby has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in eight games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has four points (two goals, two assists) in three games against the Capitals in the second round.
When Crosby is ready to return, Sullivan does not expect him to shy away from contact.
"I think what separates Sid from most other players is his ability and his willingness to play in the battle areas," Sullivan said. "He has a blue-collar element to his game, even though he's an elite player. I think that's what allows him to have the success that he's had.
"I think he might be the best player in the world at generating offense from below the goal line and creating separation, and making that next play or taking the puck to the net himself. … I just think that's an element of Sid's game that separates him from most other elite players."