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Crosby Clears Protocol, Slated to Skate; Sullivan Could Return Sunday

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is back on the ice.

This is the news people have been waiting for: Pittsburgh Penguins captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby is out of COVID-19 protocol and was slated to skate Saturday in Pittsburgh while the team is in Ottawa for a game against the downtrodden Senators, according to assistant and interim coach Todd Reirden.

Crosby is one of eight Penguins players who has been or is in COVID-19 protocol. The team has said he had mild symptoms. Reirden said there is “the intention” that Crosby will join the team in Washington on Sunday. The Penguins don’t formally have a morning skate scheduled for Sunday after playing Saturday night in Ottawa, but ice is always available for the visiting team on the morning of a game.

“We’ll have to see how everything goes,” Reirden said in terms of Crosby’s return to games. “We’ll take it day by day.”

While there were indications Crosby would be out of protocol Saturday, confirmation was delayed after the team canceled Friday’s practice. Crosby played in one game after recovering from September wrist surgery before he was immediately back out of the lineup because he came down with the virus.

In addition, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is out of COVID-19 protocol and could return to the bench Sunday and coach the team against the Capitals. “That’s what we are hoping for, providing everything goes along as planned,” Reirden said.

Also out of protocol and scheduled to skate in Pittsburgh Saturday and meet up with the team Sunday was defenseman Brian Dumoulin. Defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel, who were not allowed to travel to Canada because of restrictions related to their recent bouts with COVID-19, also were expected to skate and then travel, as well as goaltender Tristan Jarry, who was given a rest from travel with the back-to-back games but is expected to start Sunday in Washington.

Pettersson skating is significant after he left Thursday’s game against Florida in the first period following a high hit by the Panthers’ Owen Tippett.

The Penguins are facing an Ottawa team that not only is second-to-last in the overall NHL standings with seven points in 13 games, but also is racked by a COVID-19 outbreak as well as injuries. So while the Senators are not without anyone the caliber of Sidney Crosby, they are not likely to take any time to throw some empathy the Penguins’ way for their absences.

With no practice Friday, the Penguins held a full morning skate Saturday in Ottawa. There were no unexpected additions or absences.

 

 

 

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Shelly is a columnist and reporter for Pittsburgh Hockey Now. She was a Penguins beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch her on Twitter @_shellyanderson

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