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Sidney Crosby out for Game 4 with concussion

Sidney Crosby out for Game 4 with concussion

PITTSBURGH—Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be sidelined for at least one game, Coach Mike Sullivan said on Tuesday.

“We will evaluate him from there,” Sullivan added.

The loss is a huge blow for a Penguins’ team already beset by injuries and could signal a major momentum shift in their second round series against the Capitals. Pittsburgh saw its series lead cut to 2-1 on Monday night after falling 3-2 in overtime.

Game 4 is Wednesday at PP Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

RELATED: Trotz not surprised of NHL's Niskanen decision

The defending champs entered the postseason already without their top defenseman, Kris Letang, who is sidelined until next season with a neck injury. They’re also without goalie Matt Murray.

And now this.

Crosby, who has a history of concussions and missed six games earlier this season due to one, is by far the Penguins’ most important player and, to this point, has had a great postseason. Crosby currently ranks third in points with four goals and seven assists in seven-plus games.

The two-time MVP and 2016-17 Hart Trophy finalist was injured early in Game 3 when he was cross-checked in the head by Matt Niskanen. The Capitals defenseman was assessed a major penalty and ejected. Niskanen, however, avoided further discipline from the NHL for the controversial hit.

Sullivan also announced that Conor Sheary has been diagnosed with a concussion. Sheary was injured when he collided with teammate Patric Hornqvist on Monday. He skated on his own Tuesday prior to the Penguins’ team practice.

Crosby did not skate and the question now becomes how long will he be out? Given his long history of head injuries—he missed large parts of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons due to concussions—it’s possible that it could be a while.

On Tuesday though, Sullivan said Crosby was in good form.

“He’s very upbeat and positive,” Sullivan said. “We’re very optimistic and hopeful we’ll have him back in a timely fashion.”

But how timely? Pittsburgh has overcome a litany of injuries this season but at some point the cumulative effect figures to be too much for them to bear. 

MORE CAPITALS: NHL will not suspend Niskanen for hit on Crosby

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!