NEW YORK — The Pittsburgh Penguins lost a game Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
They lost a chance to claim a spot in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But they also might have lost a lot more than any of that.
Sidney Crosby did not log a shift during the final 6:50 of the second period of their 5-3 defeat by the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their opening-round series after he absorbed a high hit from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba in the middle of the period. He subsequently adjourned to the locker room and did not return.
There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of Crosby’s injury — Mike Sullivan said after the game only that his injury is being evaluated — but that he did not come back for a game of this magnitude suggests that it could be significant.
Crosby has had several concussions, and that obviously is a concern after the blow from Trouba appeared to make contact with his head.
Trouba was not penalized for the hit. Whether the NHL will review the play for supplemental discipline wasn’t immediately clear.
PHN asked Sullivan if he felt Trouba had intent to injure Crosby, who leads the Penguins with nine points in the series and has been the best player on either team, with that hit.
“Did you see the hit?” he said. “You probably have the same opinion I do.”
The Penguins lead the series, 3-2, and will have a chance to close it out Friday night at 7 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins again started the game without three injured regulars — Tristan Jarry, Brian Dumoulin and Rickard Rakell — while New York got top-pairing defenseman Ryan Lindgren back after a three-game absence.
Lindgren’s return prompted Rangers coach Gerard Gallant to dress seven defensemen and 11 forwards, instead of the usual 6+12 configuration.
The Penguins squandered an extraordinary opportunity to get early control of the game when Trouba and Chris Kreider of the Rangers received penalties 24 seconds into the opening period.
The Penguins never seriously threatened, however, generating just two shots on New York goalie Igor Shesterkin during that 5-on-3.
Nonetheless, they managed to take a 1-0 lead when Jake Guentzel — who else? — got his sixth of the series at 10:28 of the first, as he backhanded a shot from behind the goal line off Shesterkin and into the net.
Bryan Rust and Mike Matheson got assists on the goal, which gave Guentzel at least one in six consecutive playoff games, dating to last season.
The second period was nearly eight minutes old before the Penguins recorded a shot on Shesterkin, but Kris Letang made it count.
He took a cross-ice feed from Evgeni Malkin and beat Shesterkin from inside the left circle for his first of the season. The second assist went to Jason Zucker.
The Penguins appeared to be firmly in charge at that point, but New York ran off three goals in a span of 103 seconds to take a short-lived lead.
Adam Fox got the Rangers’ first goal at 15:11, when he capped a period of sustained pressure by wristing a shot over Louis Domingue’s glove from above the right circle.
Ninety seconds later, Alexis Lafreniere was left unchecked in front of the net and put in a feed from Kaapo Kakko.
New York’s rampage continued at 17:53, when Trouba skated right to left across the ice before scoring on a backhander.
But just went the game was getting away from the Penguins. Guentzel struck again to pull them even.
He took a feed from Malkin, who was filling in for Crosby on the top line, and beat Shesterkin from the slot just 13 seconds after the Rangers had gone in front.
New York was able to reclaim the lead at 2:53 of the third, when Filip Chytil scored from inside the right circle during a power play.
The Pittsburgh Penguins pushed hard to try to force overtime, but Lindgren put the game away with an empty-net goal with 15.5 seconds to go in regulation.