Mild concussion sidelines Crosby against Canadiens

| Friday, Jan. 7, 2011

MONTREAL — Center Sidney Crosby accompanied left wing Matt Cooke on a charter plane to Pittsburgh early Thursday afternoon.

Cooke was headed home for family matters.

Crosby was on that plane because Penguins doctors needed to re-evaluate him last night. They did and diagnosed the NHL's leader in goals and points with a mild concussion.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby will miss "about a week," adding that he has to be "symptom free" before returning to the Penguins' lineup.

Neither he nor Cooke was available for comment before a 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre — a game in which Penguins center Evgeni Malkin also appeared to tweak his left knee during an incident with Canadiens center Scott Gomez late in regulation.

Malkin returned to the game, failing to score in the third round of a shootout. However, he favored the left knee that forced him to miss four games from Dec. 4-14. He has been wearing a light brace on the knee since late-October.

"I was a little concerned we were about to revisit the same injury," Bylsma said, "but that doesn't look like it's the case."

Malkin was not available for comment.

The case with Crosby, according to the Penguins, is that he was injured Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center in a blowout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In that game, Crosby was hit hard into the boards by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman late in the second period. He played six shifts in the third period.

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

Late in the second period of the Winter Classic on Saturday night was when Crosby was blindsided by a hit from Washington's David Steckel — an act that was not punished by the NHL even though Steckel caught an unaware Crosby in the head.

Bylsma said Crosby "certainly saw doctors" after the Classic, adding that he wouldn't have played Wednesday night if the Penguins hadn't "thought he was OK to play."

Before this game at Montreal, Bylsma described Crosby as having an "upper-body injury."

Previous injuries that have forced Crosby to miss games have been mostly of the lower-body variety (groin, hip and ankle).

The Penguins dressed seven defensemen against the Canadiens.

Cooke's spot in the lineup was filled by winger Arron Asham, a healthy scratch in the Penguins' previous game. Asham scored the Penguins' lone goal in the shootout loss.

Rookie Mark Letestu centered left wing Chris Kunitz and right wing Pascal Dupuis in place of Crosby, who is the NHL's leader in goals (32) and points (66).

Coincidentally, news of Crosby's injury came on the same day word broke out of Washington that his rival and the league's other top star, left wing Alex Ovechkin, received a cortisone-shot to his left arm.

The Canadiens were hardly healthy for this game.

They played without heart-and-soul defenseman Josh Gorges. His injured right knee will require surgery, and he will miss the remainder of the season, Montreal general manager Pierre Gauthier said before the game.

The extended absence of Gorges leaves the Canadiens without two top defensemen. Andrei Markov is out indefinitely, also because of an injured knee. A third top Canadiens defenseman, Roman Hamrlik, also didn't play against the Penguins, though his return is soon expected.

The Penguins can only hope the same for Crosby, as they get set to play Minnesota (Saturday) and Boston (Sunday) at home — before playing at Montreal, Boston and home to Detroit by Jan. 18.

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