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Sid joining Pens for trip, but no timetable for return

by Dan Rosen
WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby was up in the Verizon Center press box Wednesday night, sitting with the coaches during the periods and mingling with some of the Pittsburgh Penguins' staff members between periods. He was also seen down in the dressing room talking with some of his teammates.

Crosby arrived in Washington around 4 o'clock in the afternoon to join his teammates on the road for the first time since their last trip to Washington in early December.

He was healthy then. He's just starting to get better again now.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 12
SOG: 31 | +/-: 7
Prior to the Penguins 1-0 loss, coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby will start skating on his own during this road trip, which continues in South Florida on Friday and then in Tampa on Sunday -- but added that there is still no timetable for his return from concussion symptoms that have kept him out of the lineup since Dec. 8.

Nevertheless, Crosby's presence was a welcome sign to a team that can't seem to find the winning formula right now.

"Sid is on the road. Sid is with his team. We want him around," forward Pascal Dupuis said. "He's obviously our leader, our team captain and when things aren't going our way it's fun to see him around."

Except, Crosby isn't here to physically help the Penguins get back on track.

The Penguins have lost six in a row and have scored only six goals in the process. Their latest loss to the Capitals dropped them out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. They're playing without Crosby, Kris Letang (concussion symptoms) and Jordan Staal (knee).

"I don't think (Crosby) is anywhere close to coming back, so you can't really wait for him," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "The guys that are going to pull us out of this aren't Sid or Letang; it's the guys in this room. Obviously we'd love to have those guys in the lineup, but that can't be our attitude right now, we can't wait for those guys."

Crosby has not played since Dec. 5 and last practiced with the Penguins two days later. Until Wednesday there had been little news from the Penguins about their captain, other than Bylsma saying two weeks ago that Crosby was still having concussion-like symptoms.

Bylsma said on Wednesday that Crosby has been doing light exercises in the weight room and has been riding the bike.

Crosby sat out the final 41 games of last season and the first 20 games this season with concussion symptoms before coming back in a spectacular and celebrated fashion with a 4-point effort against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21. He put up 12 points in eight games, but started experiencing symptoms again after playing against Boston on Dec. 5.

Pittsburgh has won only five of 14 games since. They were blitzed 5-1 by Ottawa at home on Tuesday before dropping the 1-0 decision to the Capitals on Wednesday.

"Everybody is frustrated because we're obviously used to being a successful team, being at the top of the conference year after year, but if you look at our game (Wednesday) versus (Tuesday), you can take a lot more positives from (Wednesday)," Orpik said. "If we responded the way we did after (Tuesday), I think we should probably even respond even better after (Wednesday). The effort tis the only thing we can control right now and I thought everybody gave a great effort (in Washington)."

Bylsma also said rookie defenseman Simon Despres, who was recalled to play in Tuesday's game against Ottawa, suffered a sprained knee and will be out two to four weeks. He played only three minutes during the 5-1 loss to the Senators and was determined to have a lower-body injury during the second period.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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