Crosby con­cussed: out for Game 4

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JESSE DOUGHERTY

PITTS­BURGH — Sid­ney Crosby has been di­ag­nosed with a con­cus­sion and will not play in Game 4, Pen­guins Coach Mike Sul­li­van said Tues­day. Sul­li­van said Crosby will be “day-to-day from there.”

Crosby suf­fered the con­cus­sion on a cross-check by Matt Niskanen in the first pe­riod of Game 3 on Mon­day night. The play started with Alex Ovechkin’s stick mak­ing con­tact with Crosby’s head, then Niskanen bar­reled into the Pen­guins’ star just 5:24 into the first pe­riod. Niskanen skated to the locker room, ejected from the con­test with a game mis­con­duct.

Crosby was face down on the ice un­til a trainer came to his aid, then he too headed into the bow­els of PPG Paints Arena.

Niskanen will im­me­di­ately re­turn to ac­tion after the NHL de­cided Tues­day to is­sue no fur­ther punishment for the hit. Crosby will not do the same for Game 4 in Pitts­burgh on Wed­nes­day, and the se­ries could be greatly al­tered as a re­sult.

“He will go through the pro­to­cols that we al­ways put our guys through when they’ve been di­ag­nosed with a con­cus­sion,” Sul­li­van said. “The na­ture of these things is that they are all very dif­fer­ent. Some­times they come around quickly, other times they don’t. My ex­pe­ri­ence of deal­ing with these in the past with play­ers is that they are day-to-day things, and so we’ll rely on our med­i­cal staff to ad­vise us in the right way and our guys do a great job in that re­gard.”

Crosby has a long his­tory of con­cus­sions. In the 2011 Win­ter Clas­sic, then-Cap­i­tals cen­tre David Steckel de­liv­ered a blind­side hit to Crosby’s head. Four days later, Crosby was driven into the boards by Tampa Bay Light­ning de­fence­man Vic­tor Hed­man. It was later re­ported that Crosby suf­fered a con­cus­sion, and he went on to miss 68 games and 10 months as symp­toms lin­gered.

When Crosby got back to Pen­guins train­ing camp after the World Cup of Hockey be­fore this sea­son, he suf­fered a con­cus­sion in a prac­tice. He missed the first six games of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Be­fore ex­it­ing in the first pe­riod Mon­day, Crosby had two goals and two as­sists in Games 1 and 2. That came after notch­ing two goals and five as­sists in a first-round se­ries win over the Blue Jack­ets, and the 29-year-old also led the Pen­guins with 89 points (a league-high 44 goals and 45 as­sists) in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Be­fore Mon­day’s game, he was named one of three fi­nal­ists to the Hart Tro­phy, which is given to the NHL’s most valu­able player.

That is why Crosby’s ab­sence, for one game or more, can so heav­ily af­fect this se­ries.

He is one of the best play­ers in the world, el­e­vates who­ever Sul­li­van puts on his flanks and was beat­ing the Cap­i­tals in all kinds of ways to start this se­ries: Scor­ing twice in 52 sec­onds in Game 1, weav­ing through three de­fense­men to set up a Phil Kes­sel goal in Game 2, then block­ing a shot to spring a Jake Guentzel break­away goal later in that con­test.

Now the Pen­guins will ad­just to a Crosby-less lineup ahead of Game 4, and they are not strangers to filling gaps both big and small.

But Crosby’s con­cus­sion leaves them with­out the cen­ter­piece of their of­fence as the Cap­i­tals look to even the se­ries.

After he left Game 3, Sul­li­van con­structed a top line of Chris Ku­nitz, Ev­geni Malkin and Kes­sel, and the Pen­guins did not score un­til they net­ted two six-on-five goals in the fi­nal two min­utes of reg­u­la­tion. They also went score­less on four power-play at­tempts.

“We’ve been through this all year with in­juries,” Pen­guins for­ward Pa­tric Horn­qvist said Tues­day be­fore Sul­li­van an­nounced Crosby’s con­cus­sion. “Ob­vi­ously if Sid is not play­ing to­mor­row it’s a loss for us, but we need other guys to step up and we’ve been do­ing that all year.”

GENE J. PUSKAR, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sid­ney Crosby takes a hit from Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals’ Matt Niskanen dur­ing the first pe­riod of Game 3 that will force Crosby to miss Game 4.

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