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Penguins captain Crosby out for game against Avalanche with upper-body injury

Penguins center Sidney Crosby prepares for a faceoff during the second period against the Wild on Saturday, April 5, 2014.

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The Penguins have had 24 players miss games because of injuries this season. Those who have not:

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Sunday, April 6, 2014, 7:45 p.m.

DENVER — Captain Sidney Crosby finally is part of the club.

An upper-body injury prevented him from playing for the Penguins against Colorado at Pepsi Center on Sunday night. Crosby is the 24th player to miss a game because of injury.

The Penguins are now at 506 man-games lost to injury— a total that leads the NHL by about 100.

The injury means Crosby again will not play a full season, something he never has done in the NHL.

“Every player offers resistances, wants to play in every game, be in every game, so …” coach Dan Bylsma said.

The Penguins also played without left winger Chris Kunitz and defensemen Brooks Orpik (lower-body injuries) and Olli Maatta (upper body).

“The injuries are ones that every one of the players has been playing with, and it wasn't prudent to play in back-to-back games, really,” Bylsma said.

The Penguins lost 4-0 at Minnesota on Saturday night.

Crosby played just less than 20 minutes in that contest. Second among NHL forwards at about 22 minutes of average ice time, Crosby had gone three consecutive games of playing fewer than 20 minutes.

Crosby had not said publicly that appearing in 82 games was a goal, though he had confided that to friends within and outside of the Penguins.

He had missed 114 games (including playoffs) in three seasons prior to this one. He was the league's top scorer and lead MVP candidate at the time of his injury in two of those three seasons.

Crosby, widely regarded by peers as the league's best player, has won the scoring title and MVP once each. His 102 points were 18 more than the NHL's No. 2 scorer, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, as of Sunday.

The Penguins played the Avalanche without their projected top three centers. Evgeni Malkin and Marcel Goc are out with foot injuries, and their status for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is undetermined.

Malkin, who is recovering from a hairline fracture, is scheduled to have a re-evaluation with a physician Monday in Pittsburgh, Bylsma said.

The Penguins believe Malkin could play sometime during Round 1, if not at the start. They do not anticipate Goc will be ready for the opening round.

The playoffs open April 16. The Penguins' opponent and the date for Game 1 are not determined.

Locked into the No. 2 seed as the Metropolitan Division champions, the Penguins' final week mostly is meaningless — though, home games against Detroit and Philadelphia could play a role in the seeding for those clubs.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach himat or via Twitter@RobRossi_Trib.

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