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Sidney Crosby game-time decision for Penguins against Capitals

Pittsburgh center could return from concussion for Game 5

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

WASHINGTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary passed baseline concussion testing Friday and will be game-time decisions against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

The game is at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-1.

Crosby did not participate in an optional skate Saturday morning and was unavailable for comment, but he went through his usual game-day routine, including playing soccer in the hall.

Sheary said he passed a baseline test Friday. Asked if Crosby had done the same, coach Mike Sullivan said yes.

"Sid will be a game-time decision," Sullivan said. "He has had a number of really positive days. His status still hasn't changed to this point, but he'll be a game-time decision. Conor's the same."

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals-Penguins series coverage]

 

The NHL Concussion Evaluation and Management Protocol states: "There is no mandatory period of time that a Player must be withheld from play following a concussion, as the return to play decision is based on the individual circumstances of that player."

A player must satisfy three criteria to return to play: 1. Completely recover from concussion-related symptoms at rest. 2. Have no emergence of concussion-related symptoms at exertion levels required for competitive play. 3. Be judged by the Club's Physician to have returned to his neurocognitive baseline following an evaluation by the Club consulting neuropsychologist.

"The Club Physician remains solely responsible for making return to play decisions based on these parameters," according to the protocol.

Crosby and Sheary each sustained a concussion in Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime loss in Game 3 on Monday and sat out a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Crosby skated for three straight days and Sheary for at least two days. Each took part in a full-contact practice Friday.

Sheary took part in the morning skate and said he was monitoring himself for symptoms.

"We'll see how the day goes and see how I feel and go from there," Sheary said. "Obviously with this injury, you've got to kind of wait it out and see how you feel."

Asked if the 3-1 series lead factored into the Penguins' decision-making on the players' returns, Sullivan said: "I think that we trust our doctors and the process that they go through, and when they tell us that these guys are healthy and are cleared to play, then that's all we need to know.

Video: Should the Penguins play Sidney Crosby up 3-1?

"And so as I said from the start, the health and safety of our players is always the priority and that will never change. But we trust our medical staff. We trust the doctors that are monitoring these guys. They know way more about it than the rest of us do.

"And so we rely on those guys to monitor these situations and advise us the right way. I think that's the most prudent way to approach it, and that's how we are."

Asked if he was surprised Crosby and Sheary were recovering so quickly, Sullivan said: "No. I don't think so, just because I was around them after the fact. My experience of watching players go through [recovery] over the years, you know, they're all unique in their own way. Some recover quicker than others.

"I don't claim to know a whole lot about it, and that's why we refer to the people that do. And so these guys that are monitoring our guys have expertise in the field. They're great doctors. And we trust them. And so they advise us the right way with these guys, and so we trust these guys, and we'll listen to what they say."

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