Penguins notebook: Crosby makes surprise visit to Florida
• Captain Sidney Crosby joined the Penguins in Tampa a few hours before their game against the Lightning. He will also accompany the team to Fort Lauderdale for its game against Florida. Crosby is not yet skating but was given medical clearance to fly. The star center, who leads the NHL with 56 points, hasn't played since breaking his jaw and losing multiple teeth on March 30 against the New York Islanders. Coach Dan Bylsma called Crosby and suggested it would be good for him to join his teammates in the Sunshine State. Crosby, who was unable to consume anything other than milkshakes during the past 10 days, was given the green light to eat mashed potatoes earlier this week. Although there remains no timetable for Crosby's return, he wants to return before the playoffs and would like to resume skating next week.
• Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to the lineup for the first time in two weeks. He had been dealing with a broken toe and a groin injury, and it is believed the groin injury was the bigger concern. He has missed 12 games this season with a multitude of injuries but still ranks third in scoring among defensemen, trailing only Montreal's PK Subban and Minnesota's Ryan Sutter. Letang entered Thursday's game with three goals and 28 points in 28 games.
• The Penguins received more good injury news about one of their defensemen. Paul Martin, who has been out for almost two weeks with a broken bone in his hand, resumed skating in Pittsburgh. Bylsma said Martin won't be “practicing stick-handling” anytime soon but noted that having Martin skating again is a positive development. The Penguins originally said Martin would miss six weeks following the injury, but later revised the prognostication to “4-to-6 weeks.” It remains a possibility that Martin will be available when the playoffs begin on May 1.
• The Penguins held an optional morning skate. Veterans Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik, Douglas Murray and Mark Eaton did not participate.
• The Penguins played without Crosby, Martin, James Neal (Concussion), Dustin Jeffrey (healthy scratch), Joe Vitale (healthy scratch) and Simon Despres (healthy scratch).
• Tampa Bay played without standout defenseman Victor Hedman (lower-body injury).