CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — For three games, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been limited to watching his team, which is mired in a 1-7-2 10-game stretch. Crosby, who was a full participant in practice Tuesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, couldn’t put his finger on one thing he has seen while he has been out that is going wrong.
“It’s always easier watching from there. It’s probably not necessarily the same thing,” Crosby said. “We’ve found different ways to lose games. We’ve probably corrected one thing, and something else has been a factor in another game we’ve lost.”
Crosby would not commit to playing Wednesday when the Dallas Stars visit PPG Paints Arena, but he seemed encouraged about his status. He has been dealing with an upper-body injury.
“It was more of a regular practice. It’s good to get out there with the guys, compete and get back into doing those regular things,” Crosby said. “Just to be able to get contact and do regular drills, that’s a good sign. It feels good to be able to do those things.”
Crosby skated on a regular line with wingers Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist, and he was able to take some contact. It’s probably a good guess that he will be at least a game-time decision Wednesday as long as there are no setbacks or ill effects from his rigorous practice.
“He looks pretty close to me,” coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby. “He had a good, strong practice.”
Fellow star center Evgeni Malkin missed practice for what coach Mike Sullivan termed a maintenance day. Usually, that means a player won’t miss any games. Malkin took an inadvertent shot across his neck from Buffalo’s Marco Scandella in the second period Monday of a 5-4 overtime loss, but he remained in the game. It’s not known whether that contributed to Malkin missing practice.
On defense, the long-time top pairing of Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang was reunited at practice.
Also, for what it’s worth, goaltender Casey DeSmith stayed on the ice at practice much longer than Matt Murray, which could be an indication that Murray will start against the Stars.
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Tanner Pearson-Riley Sheahan-Phil Kessel
Zach Aston-Reese-Derick Brassard-Dominik Simon
Bryan Rust-Derek Grant-Daniel Sprong
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Jack Johnson-Jamie Oleksiak
Olli Maatta-Juuso Riikola
(Chad Ruhwedel rotated in)