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Penguins will play Montreal without Crosby, Cooke

MONTREAL — Center Sidney Crosby and left wing Matt Cooke will not play for the Penguins tonight at Bell Center against the Montreal Canadiens.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby ("upper body injury") and Cooke ("personal issues... not hockey related") returned to Pittsburgh early today. Bylsma does not expect either player to be out long term, though he declined to identify specifics of either Crosby's injury or Cooke's personal situation.

Crosby, who leads the NHL in goals and points, was being re-evaluated by Penguins physicians this evening, Bylsma said.

Crosby's injury dates to the Penguins' home win Wednesday night against Tampa Bay. Bylsma said the injury does not result from a hit by Washington's David Steckel last Saturday night during the Winter Classic at Heinz Field.

Bylsma did not identify the sequence upon which Crosby was injured against Tampa Bay.

"At this point we're making sure he's healthy and ready and able to play when he does get back out there," Bylsma said.

"We knew at one point in the game (Wednesday), after the game and traveling, waking up this morning... but we were still going to see how he was reacting to his injury. When he woke up this morning we decided he wasn't going to play tonight."

This will mark only the second game Crosby has missed over the past two seasons. His previous injuries have been of the lower-body variety (groin, hip and ankle).

Bylsma said the absences of Crosby and Cooke will not force him to alter the No. 2 line with center Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy at left wing and Evgeni Malkin at right wing.

Rookie Mark Letestu will center the top line with left wing Chris Kunitz and right wing Pascal Dupuis.

Bylsma said Brent Johnson will start in goal because the Penguins are playing on consecutive nights.

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