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Crosby could play in Penguins opener against Sabres

Center coming off full practice; Galchenyuk day to day; Rust out longer term

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby could play for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they open their regular season against the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

The center practiced Tuesday after sustaining an undisclosed injury Saturday, when he was struck in the foot by a shot from Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella at 6:42 in the first period of the Penguins' preseason finale. The Pittsburgh captain would not discuss his availability for Thursday.

"I feel pretty good," Crosby said. "I don't know the plan, but I felt good today. ... I was trying to get out of the way [of Scandella's shot] and it caught me. That happens. You face it and block it or get out of the way. I wanted to get out of the way."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan also did not divulge Crosby's status for Thursday.

"I think it would be optimistic that he was out there," Sullivan said. "I thought he looked terrific."

Video: Crosby earns the No. 3 spot on the Top 50 Players

Crosby skated for less than a minute before practice Sunday but did not return when his teammates took the ice. He said he also skated for about a minute when the Penguins had a day off Monday.

Second-line left wing Alex Galchenyuk also could play Thursday but did not practice. He's day to day with a lower-body injury that held him out of the final two preseason games. He could practice Wednesday, Sullivan said.

Forward Bryan Rust, who had been the second-line right wing in recent practices, was placed on long term injured reserve Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, Sullivan said. He left the game Saturday after taking a shot to the hand from Sabres defenseman Colin Miller.

"As far as health, I think it would have been nice to try to keep everybody healthy and get through [training camp]," Crosby said. "That didn't happen. I think you just find a way. As far as everything else is concerned, I think we competed hard and did some good things.

"It's a process. It doesn't happen Game 1. Our mentality, and that kind of thing, I think it's in the right spot going into Game 1."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Crosby

Crosby returned to his spot at first-line center with Jake Guentzel at left wing and Patric Hornqvist at right wing for practice. He also went back on the top power-play unit with Guentzel, Hornqvist, forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang.

Defenseman Juuso Riikola was a placeholder for Galchenyuk at second-line left wing with Malkin at center.

In 79 games last season, Crosby reached 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) for the first time since he had 104 points (36 goals, 68 assists) in 2013-14. He had 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) on the power play.

After playing 161 of the Penguins' 164 games the past two seasons, including all 82 in 2017-18, Crosby aimed to play two of their six preseason games. He scored a goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Sept. 25 before getting injured against Buffalo on Saturday.

"It would have been nice to get in another game," Crosby said. "It happens. I felt good today, and we'll get ready here for Game 1."

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