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Crosby, Penguins offer support before first home game since shooting

Face Islanders motivated to help city heal

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Sidney Crosby was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft as a 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Throughout the past 13 years, the now 31-year-old Penguins captain came to view Pittsburgh as a second home. That home was attacked Saturday when 11 people were killed, and six others injured, in a shooting at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

About five miles from where the shooting occurred, the Penguins will play their first home game in two weeks when they face the New York Islanders at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, ATTSN-PT, MSG, NHL.TV).

Crosby sees it as an opportunity to help the city heal.

"Try to play for the city, as we always do, but especially in times like this," Crosby said. "It's a terrible thing that happened and we're thinking about everyone involved. Hopefully we can do all we can to help and support them right now."

Crosby's teammates shared his sentiments.

Matt Murray, a 24-year-old goaltender who won the Stanley Cup twice in his first three seasons with the Penguins, was solemn while speaking with reporters after practice Monday. He expressed remorse, but also said he would like the Penguins to help return Pittsburgh to some sense of normalcy.

"That's one of our biggest motivations, is playing for this city. Even more so now," Murray said. "It's sad. It's terrible. From what I've seen of Pittsburgh since I've been here is it's a really strong, really positive city. I'm sure everybody will rally around what happened and rally together, stick together."

Video: Morehouse on Penguins aiding Pittsburgh community

Bryan Rust also spoke of Pittsburgh's strength.

"I think everybody in this community kind of rallies around each other," Rust said. "I think, despite that horrible tragedy, I think that's going to bring this community closer together. Hopefully we can help out with that a little bit."

The players haven't been alone in their attempt to aid the city. 

The Penguins organization held a blood drive at PPG Paints Arena from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Monday. It also cancelled its annual Halloween celebration scheduled for Tuesday and will instead hold a collection to benefit the victims and families affected by the shooting.

There will be a moment of silence before the game.

The Pittsburgh Penguins foundation made two $25,000 donations to support the victims and families: one to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and another to establish a fund with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety to benefit the four Pittsburgh Police officers injured in the tragedy.

Coach Mike Sullivan said he and the players believe they have a responsibility to help the city.

"Our players have a strong connection to this city and the fanbase in all the respective communities," Sullivan said. "I know our players feel such a big part of the city of Pittsburgh and are appreciative of all the support that the fans have given this team over the years. We all feel for the victims of the tragedy in Squirrel Hill. 

"Certainly, I know that our players, if they can do anything for the city, is to try to play as hard as they can and put an inspired effort forward."

Video: PIT@VAN: Canucks remember Pittsburgh victims

Practice went as it normally would Monday. 

Defenseman Kris Letang left early for precautionary reasons after sustaining a lower-body injury in a 5-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Sullivan said he would have to speak with the trainers before determining Letang's status for Tuesday.

Forward Derick Brassard did not practice after missing the game Saturday with a lower-body injury.

Although the feeling surrounding practice didn't seem noticeably different, Crosby said the Penguins played with heavy hearts Saturday and will again Tuesday.

"I think just following it, even from Vancouver, it was everywhere," Crosby said. "You see things happen like that, unfortunately, a lot. To have it happen where you live is something that's hard to believe once it does happen. It's a terrible feeling and, like I said, we'll try to do everything we can to help out. It's terrible to see."

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