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Crosby Avoids Injury Following Hit by Downie

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Two seasons ago Penguins forward Sidney Crosby suffered a high-ankle sprain when he went crashing into the end boards against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 18, 2008. Crosby would miss 29 of the next 36 games.

It appeared Crosby might have suffered a similar fate at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday during the Penguins 2-1 victory over the Lightning.

Just minutes into the contest Crosby’s right leg buckled under his body following a hit from Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie. Crosby had just made a pass across the ice when Downie came in from his blindside and hit him well after Crosby got rid of the puck.

Crosby winced in pain as the two slid across the ice, but he was able to get on his feet and hobble to the bench with the help of Penguins head athletic trainer Chris Stewart.

“I didn’t really know how it happened,” Crosby said. “I saw the replay between periods. He kind of got his leg underneath me trying to catch up with me. He got me in a pretty bad position. I don’t think there is a need for his leg to be behind my knee like that. After falling anything can happen. When you put your leg behind a guy like that it’s a little questionable. But those things happen. It’s a part of the game.

“I was lucky my toe wasn’t caught in the ice. I was able to slide without catching something. Maybe if it’s later in the period when you don’t slide as much it could have been worse. But it was fresh ice and I was able to slide. It’s not a position you want to be in for too long.” ( Watch Video)

Head coach Dan Bylsma did not see the original hit, but needless to say it was an uneasy feeling for him to have to watch his star player lying on the ice in obvious pain.

“I didn't see exactly what it was or what happened until between periods,” Bylsma said. “You hold your breath for any of your players, especially when you don't know what happened to him. He was down in a heap there. It’s not a good feeling.” ( Watch Video)

Stewart spent the next few minutes evaluating Crosby on the Pittsburgh bench, but after the Penguins captain tested the knee after a whistle, he felt good enough to return.

In fact, on one of his first shifts back Crosby nearly sneaked a shot past the blocker of Lightning goaltender Antero Niittymaki as he sped through the Tampa Bay defense showing no ill effect from Downie’s hit.

“With time I was able to go a little bit,” Crosby said. “By the end of the first (I knew it was OK). It was more of a stinger. It’s scary nonetheless.”

Crosby says he doesn’t expect any lingering soreness to occur following the Downie hit.

“I’ve been through the high ankle sprain,” Crosby said. “I have a pretty good idea when you’re in big trouble and the areas they are. I didn’t hurt anything around there. That’s a good thing.”

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