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.
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