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Penguins notebook: Crosby among those vying for Hart Trophy

| Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:36 p.m.

Captain Sidney Crosby again is a contender to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP.

Crosby, the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf and the Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux are finalists for the award, which is voted on by select members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

Crosby won the Hart in 2007, and was a finalist in 2010 and 2013.

“It's an honor,” Crosby said after practice Thursday at Consol Energy Center. “To get recognized with that group of players, to know who's won that trophy in the past, it's definitely an honor.”

This season, despite the Penguins losing a league-high 529 man-games to injury, Crosby steered them to a Metropolitan Division title and won his second scoring championship with 104 points.

It was his fifth 100-point season.

With a win, Crosby would join Mario Lemieux as the only multiple Hart Trophy winners in franchise history. Lemieux won it three times.

Back in back-to-back

Games 2 and 3 of the Rangers series are Sunday and Monday.

It marks the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 that the Penguins will play playoff games on back-to-back nights.

Unlike those games — a pair of 3-1 losses in Detroit — the 24 hours between games also will include a pair of flights to New York.

“Going back-to-back in Games 2 and 3, that catches your eye,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Injuries remain same

Center Brandon Sutter and right wing Joe Vitale practiced for a second consecutive day following injuries that kept them from finishing Game 6 against Columbus.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who left practice early April 25 and missed Games 5 and 6 with an undisclosed injury, did not practice with the team Thursday.

Gibbons status?

Winger Brian Gibbons (upper body) hasn't played since scoring a pair of early goals in Game 2 against Columbus and did little to clarify his status for the Rangers series.

Asked whether he's been cleared to return, Gibbons responded, “I think so. I don't know. Just skating every day and practicing as a team. Doing better each day.”

The Penguins never have said Gibbons was cleared to return to game action, though no injury updates are provided in the postseason, per team policy.

Gibbons practiced with the Penguins the past two days. On Thursday, he centered a fifth line that also included wingers Taylor Pyatt and Chris Conner.

Pressed further and asked whether he was cleared for full contact, Gibbons said, “Yeah. Been practicing for a few days now. Feeling good. I guess that's it.”

At the time of his injury, Gibbons had been playing alongside center Sidney Crosby, who, according to Bylsma, enjoyed having someone as speedy as Gibbons on his wing.

‘Gold out' for Game 1

The Penguins are calling for a “gold out” to start the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Fans entering Consol Energy Center will be presented with a gold T-shirt and a gold towel.

The remainder of postseason fan traditions will remain intact.

Starting with Game 1, the Penguins are inviting fans who don't have tickets to the game to watch from the parking lot across the street from Consol Energy Center. The 16-by-9 foot screen has become a staple during postseasons.

Concessions from Pittsburgh Food Trucks and a PensGear merchandise trailer also will be part of the festivities during game nights in the postseason.

Tickets for Games 1 and 2 remain on sale.

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