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Penguins injuries piling up

Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Conor Sheary each day to day, goalie Matt Murray could practice Thursday

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Defenseman Kris Letang and forward Conor Sheary have joined the injury list for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are without several key players less than a week into their Stanley Cup defense.

Captain Sidney Crosby (concussion), Letang (upper body) and Sheary (eye) each are day to day, coach Mike Sullivan said Wednesday. Goalie Matt Murray (broken hand) participated in an optional practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Wednesday and has been cleared to return to full practice, Sullivan said.

Letang and Sheary were injured during a 4-0 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Crosby, who has missed Pittsburgh's first four games this season because of a concussion sustained during practice Oct. 7, skated on his own Wednesday. He has skated on his own each day since Oct. 11 and has practiced once, when he wore a yellow, no-contact jersey Oct. 12.

"[Crosby] is status quo," Sullivan said. "We'll see how he responds and go from there."

Letang, who averaged 26:57 of ice time last season, left the game at Montreal after being hit into the boards by Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher during the third period. Because of his ice time and responsibility on defense, Letang could prove to be as difficult to replace as Crosby.

"Logistically, I think the fact that he logs the type of minutes that he logs, the position that he plays in, in nature of defense, it's a very important position," Sullivan said. "He plays a critical role for this team as far as helping us play the type of game we're trying to play."

Sullivan said he is relieved that the injuries to Letang and Sheary, who took a stick to the face from Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov, don't appear to be long-term.

"Those potentially could have been really serious injuries," he said. "So obviously we'd like to have them in the lineup. Our hope is that we get them."

Despite missing a few key pieces, the Penguins are 2-1-1 entering a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the San Jose Sharks at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, CSN-CA, NHL.TV). Forward Bryan Rust, who returned from an undisclosed injury Tuesday, said there's no excuse for a lackluster performance even with important players out of the lineup.

"It might be a little early to be starting all of that stuff," Rust said. "But playing as far as you can go last year and the whole team is basically back except for a few guys, so there are going to be early injuries and there are going to be injuries over the course of the year. We just have to kind of keep making do with what guys we have and what lineup we have."

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