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Crosby day to day for Penguins, status for season opener unknown

Center sustained undisclosed injury in preseason finale

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is day to day for the Pittsburgh Penguins with an undisclosed injury, coach Mike Sullivan said Sunday.

The center was hit in the leg by a shot from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella after playing 6:42 in the first period of Pittsburgh's preseason finale Saturday and did not play the final two periods. Though Sullivan said the captain's status is encouraging, he did not address Crosby's availability for the season opener against the Sabres at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

"Injuries are a part of the game. It is what it is," Sullivan said. "We just have to adjust. I think that's where the versatility that our group has comes into play."

 

[RELATED: Crosby injured in Penguins' preseason finale]

 

Crosby skated without gear for less than a minute before practice Sunday, seemingly testing the injury before heading back down the runway. He did not return when his teammates took the ice and was held out for precautionary reasons, Sullivan said.

The Penguins did not take line rushes or practice the power play. During training camp, Crosby has been the first-line center with Jake Guentzel at left wing and either Dominik Kahun or Brandon Tanev at right wing.

Forward Jared McCann replaced Crosby at center Saturday. McCann spent some time on a line with Crosby and Guentzel last season after being acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Feb. 1. He said he would be prepared to take on a center role if Crosby is out at least one game.

"I'm not Sid. I wish," McCann said. "I just have to focus on what I do best as a centerman. I feel like I'm responsible defensively. Coming off the wing, it's a little different, obviously switching positions and being in different spots. So I just have to focus and whenever they need me at center, I'll be there."

Video: BUF@PIT: Crosby injured after taking puck to leg

Forward Bryan Rust also didn't practice. He was still being evaluated Sunday after blocking a shot by Sabres defenseman Colin Miller with his hand, Sullivan said.

Forward Alex Galchenyuk, who did not play the Penguins' final two preseason games because of a lower-body issue, remains day to day. He had an off-ice workout Sunday and is expected to skate with skills coach Ty Hennes when the Penguins have a day off Monday.

If Crosby, Rust and Galchenyuk are unable to play Thursday, Pittsburgh could start the season without three of its top-six forwards.

"I think we have four more days for [them to get back]," center Evgeni Malkin said. "I hope it's not bad. It's always tough if we lose a couple of good players. It's like we know, [Crosby] and Rust, they're a huge part of [the team]. We just need to wait and see what's going on. I hope they're back. But we still have four lines. We play if they're not back."

Crosby played his first preseason game Wednesday, when he scored a third-period goal against the Detroit Red Wings, after being held out of the first four games. Immediately after practicing in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, on Friday, Crosby traveled to Rimouski, Quebec, to attend a ceremony where the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League retired his No. 87. He returned Pittsburgh in time to play his second preseason game Saturday.

Crosby has played 161 of the Penguins' 164 games the past two seasons, including 82 in 2017-18, the only time he's played a full 82 games in 14 NHL seasons. In 79 games last season, Crosby reached 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) for the first time since 2013-14, when he had 104 (36 goals, 68 assists). He was primarily paired with Guentzel, who scored 40 goals with Crosby assisting on 25 of them.

"I'm not really sure what's going on either, but if you lose a player like that, I think it's got to be by committee," Guentzel said. "He's such a good player and does everything for us."

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