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Crosby sharp in third straight noncontact practice

| Sunday, April 3, 2011

SUNRISE, Fla. — Make it three straight days of noncontact practices for Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

He again looked sharp during a game-day practice with teammates, the latest lasting about 40 minutes Saturday morning at BankAtlantic Center. As was the case following an off-day practice Friday that lasted about an hour, Crosby spent about 20 minutes after yesterday's session working individually on conditioning drills.

He was not available for comment, but the Penguins' Florida swing proved successful if for no other reason than Crosby had not experienced headaches or any other concussion symptoms after the practices.

Though he missed a 38th consecutive game last night against the Florida Panthers, Crosby's practice before the contest included:

• Work on power-play drills for a third-straight day.

• Offensive-zone drills that featured close-range shooting and passing in addition to puck retrieval.

• Line rushes and general stick-handling drills, also for a third consecutive day.

There remains no timetable for his return to full-contact practices. He must get clearance from team doctors for that next step in his recovery from a concussion.

Johnny done lately

Backup goalie Brent Johnson made his 19th and perhaps final start against the Panthers, even though coach Dan Bylsma said earlier this week that Johnson could start one of the three remaining games.

The Penguins remain in a tight race with Tampa Bay for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, with home-ice advantage in the clubs' likely first-round Stanley Cup playoff series going to the winner.

If the Lightning, with four games remaining, keep winning, Bylsma might opt to play Marc-Andre Fleury in each of the final three games.

Fleury has carried a heavy workload since Johnson started eight and appeared in nine of the Penguins' initial 15 games. Fleury has started 53 of the Penguins' past 62 games, going 33-13-5 and allowing two or fewer goals 32 times over that stretch.

Around the boards

Veteran winger Craig Adams surprised teammates by sporting a new haircut, a Mohawk - a look he last tried five years ago. ... The Penguins have scored first in 39 of 79 games. ... Right wing Arron Asham (lower-body injury) missed a second straight game.

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