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Sullivan sidesteps questions about Crosby's injury, Niskanen's cross check

Sullivan sidesteps questions about Crosby's injury, Niskanen's cross check

PITTSBURGH—Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan declined to say much about Sidney Crosby’s injury, the hit that injured the Penguins’ captain, or his best player’s status going forward.

“We don’t have any updates on our injured guys,” Sullivan said, referring to Crosby and Conor Sheary, who left the game bleeding from the face and did not return. “They’ll be evaluated overnight and we’ll go from there.”

Asked about the high cross check from Matt Niskanen that ended Crosby’s night, Sullivan sidestepped the question.

“I’d really don’t have…I’d rather not share my opinion on it,” he said.

RELATED: Niskanen addresses hit that knocked Crosby out of the game

Pressed on the subject later, Sullivan said: “At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what either coach’s opinion is on it. The players are going to play. The coaches, we’re going to do what we do. The officials do what they do. And the league does what they do.”

Asked how his team would cope if Crosby is out for any length of time, Sullivan said: “We’re hopeful, first of all, that that won’t be the case.”

Sullivan also would not say whether Crosby suffered an upper or lower body injury. In addition to taking a shot to the head from Niskanen’s cross check, Crosby’s left leg also buckled awkwardly underneath him as he fell to the ice.

“I’d rather not comment on it,” Sullivan said, asked for details on the location or nature of Crosby’s injury.

Sullivan did, however, say he’s confident his team can overcome its latest bout with the injury bug.

“I think this group has so much character and talent that we’re able to endure the injuries that we have,” he said. “We’ve done it all year long, and we did it again tonight. And we’ll continue to do it.”

MORE CAPITALS: 3 key observations: Caps win, now all eyes on Crosby

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page

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Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin for Game 1

As the Capitals and Penguins prepare to open their second-round series, significant injury news came out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Head coach Mike Sullivan informed the media that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin would not play in Game 1 due to injuries.

The fact that Hagelin would not be traveling with the team suggests that he will miss Game 2 as well, but that has not been confirmed. That also means that Malkin is at least a possibility for Game 2.

Malkin did not play in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers after getting injured in a collision with Jakub Voracek in Game 5. Hagelin was injured in Game 6 on a big hit from Claude Giroux.

So when the series against Washington begins, Pittsburgh will be playing without two-thirds of its second line.

Malkin made a real push for the Hart Trophy this season with 42 goals and 98 points. He was a major factor in last season's Cup run with 28 points in 26 games and was gearing up for another big postseason with five points in his first five games.

But don't celebrate too much, Caps fans. It is not as if either loss will be crippling to Pittsburgh's offense.

Despite not having Malkin for the entire Game 6 and losing Hagelin midway through the second period, the Penguins still managed to put up eight goals on the Flyers in the series-clinching win.

Still, with scoring depth being such a strength for Pittsburgh, the Capitals need to take advantage. The Penguins will be without one of the best players in the NHL and that makes Game 1 crucial. Washington has gone down 0-2 in each of their past two playoff series including last year against Pittsburgh. They lost that series in seven games. They need to have a better start this year and with no Malkin or Hagelin for Game 1, this may be a must-win for the Caps.

Riley Sheahan and Dominik Simon skated with Phil Kessel on the second line at practice on Wednesday and it is a good bet that is how the second line will remain for Game 1. That way, Pittsburgh can keep its third line of Conor Sheary, Derick Brassard and Bryan Rust line together which has been very effective.

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