During Friday morning’s game-day skate at Consol Energy Center, signs continued to indicate that Sidney Crosby would be back in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup for Game 2 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Islanders.
For the second straight day, Crosby took line rushes with familiar faces Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, in addition to fully participating in power-play drills with the Penguins’ No. 1 unit. Following the morning skate, Crosby himself confirmed that his broken jaw had sufficiently healed for him to return to play.
“I’m cleared to play tonight,” Crosby told Sam Kasan of the Penguins’ website. “I’m excited to get back in there and play in the playoffs.
“(The doctor) was around and I wasn’t sure if he would give me the OK or even consider it. I’m happy that he did and happy to be back. He has to be comfortable putting me out there. To hear him say that allows me to be comfortable, too.”
After taking a deflected shot to the face March 30, Crosby missed the final 12 games of the regular season and the Penguins’ 5-0 win over the Islanders in Wednesday’s postseason opener.
The Penguins’ leading scorer returned to practice eight days ago, but was skating with a “fifth line” until Thursday afternoon, when he was reunited with Dupuis and Kunitz.
Opening faceoff for Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. The status of injured forward James Neal remains uncertain, as is the case with defenseman Brooks Orpik. Jussi Jokinen fully participated in Friday’s skate, two days after New York’s Marty Reasoner violently tripped him in the neutral zone.
According to club policy, coach Dan Bylsma declined comment on any injury- or lineup-related matters. Stay tuned to City of Champions for further Penguins updates.