Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will make his much anticipated return to the Penguins’ lineup Friday night.
Channel 11’s Rich Walsh reported that Crosby was a full participant at the team’s morning skate Friday and will play in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup first-round series against the New York Islanders Friday at Consol Energy Center.
“I feel good,” Crosby said. “I'm cleared to play, so I'm excited to get back in there.”
Crosby skated with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis on the first line in practice, and also worked on the first-team power play.
“Obviously, we're happy,” Penguins left winger Tanner Glass said. “But just because we have the best player in the world back doesn't mean we can just sit around and watch him do everything.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, citing team policy, said the lineup and injuries are “not up for discussion.” But Bylsma did discuss the potential impact Crosby could have upon returning to playing for the Penguins.
“Someone has pointed that out before, that when he has come back in the past, that he makes an impact immediately when he plays. I joked before that I should hold him out for a really important game,” Bylsma said. “We're looking forward to getting him back with our group, with our team, with his line when that happens.”
Crosby was leading the NHL in scoring with 56 points (15 goals) in 36 games before a shot by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik hit Crosby in the mouth, breaking his jaw and causing him to lose multiple teeth.
Crosby missed the final 12 games of the regular season and the playoff opener, when the Penguins took a 1-0 series lead with a 5-0 victory over the Islanders.
“It's going to take an adjustment period stepping into the playoffs after missing time,” Crosby said. “That being said, this is when you want to play.”
The only Penguins players who did not skate in the morning practice were left winger James Neal, who was injured in Game 1, and Orpik, who has been out since April 23 with a lower-body injury.
The Islanders were more worried about dealing with Crosby.
“When you have an elite player like Sidney Crosby, he's going to get his chances throughout the course of the game. We have to try to make sure we contain him and limit his opportunities,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “It's obviously a big lift for the building, and their team. But we've played against him before and know what he can do. We just have to try to do the best we can to contain him.”
Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.