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Crosby To Play Against Rangers Tonight

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated 12:43 p.m. EST

Penguins center Sidney Crosby confirmed that he will play in Pittsburgh’s matchup with the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.

"I feel good," Crosby said. "I haven't gone backwards in the last three days so that's a good sign."

Crosby, who has been recovering from a knee injury, took part in the Penguins’ morning skate Wednesday - his three straight practice - and deemed himself healthy enough to play.

Crosby originally suffered the knee injury Jan. 14 against the Washington Capitals in an awkward collision along the boards. He missed the team’s following game (Jan. 16 vs. Anaheim Ducks) but returned to play two games (Jan. 18 vs. Rangers; Jan. 20 vs. Carolina Hurricanes) before the All-Star break. Following the Penguins’ game against Carolina, Crosby felt the injury had worsened.

Penguins team physician Dr. Charles Burke recommended Crosby stay off of skates for five days and rest his knee during the NHL All-Star weekend. Crosby heeded Burke’s advice and did not participate in the SuperSkills Challenge Saturday or the All-Star Game Sunday. Crosby was in attendance for all the events in Montreal during the weekend and returned to practice Monday.

The Penguins will not have the services of forward Matt Cooke for their game against the Rangers. Cooke was suspended for two games by the NHL for a hit on Carolina’s Scott Walker Jan. 20. He will miss the Rangers’ game and Friday showdown in New Jersey.

"I didn't think anything of it," Cooke said. "I backchecked and tried to finish my check because I always do. The video shows I'm not skating, there's no lunge at him. My elbows are down. My stick is down. I don't go after his head but my shoulder hits him in the chin. The league made a ruling yesterday and with the process that it is, that's what I'm kind of left with."

The Penguins recalled Chris Minard from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to replace Cooke in the lineup. The line combinations at Wednesday’s morning skate were: Pascal-Dupuis-Crosby-Evgeni Malkin; Chris Minard-Jordan Staal-Petr Sykora; Tyler Kennedy-Maxime Talbot-Miroslav Satan; Paul Bissonnette-Bill Thomas-Eric Godard. The defensive pairings: Ryan Whitney-Rob Scuderi; Kris Letang-Mark Eaton; Hal Gill-Philippe Boucher. Alex Goligoski, Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar skated together in different variations.

Orpik returned to practice for Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. Orpik suffered an undisclosed injury Jan. 16 against Anaheim. He skated on his own the past two days before practice with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar but returns to practice for the first time in nearly two weeks.

"My timing and stuff is still off from taking 10 days off," Orpik said. "I think mentally it was a good hurdle to get over, get back to practice with the guys. I'm still a few days away, a couple more days to get better."

Orpik has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game but is targeting Friday for a possible return.

"It's just kind of day-to-day," Orpik said. "I"m going to see how it feels every day. It feels different every day. You get a little nervious every night. It gets a little tight at night and then in the morning it feels a lot better. It's just a maintainence issue now. Hopefully, shooting for this weekend sometime. I'll probably have a better estimate after (Thursday practice)."

Marc-Andre Fleury will make his 11th straight appearance in goal for the Penguins.

> Crosby on the one-game suspension of Detroit's Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk:

"My situation doesn't changed based on those guys. The only thing that changed for me was being there Friday at 4 o'clock instead of Saturday morning. That really wasn't a big difference for me. It was pretty clear. It was indicated to teams who were in question, I guess you could say. Guys have to make decisions.

"I would have been there anyway. It would have been a difference of 16 hours. It's not a huge deal. I think leading up to that day they kind of new the scenerio and they're aware of it. They made their decision."
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