PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby will not play Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Penguins revealed Wednesday that Crosby was being evaluated for an upper-body injury. Crosby skated by himself Thursday morning before the team’s morning skate. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed the superstar would not play Thursday and uncharacteristically went into more detail.
“I would say it’s day to day, but…my sense is that it’s about a week,” Sullivan conceded. The Penguins coach also clarified that Crosby did not suffer a concussion, that it is an actual “upper-body” injury.
The Penguins recalled forward Derek Grant, who is a natural center Wednesday evening. Grant figures to slot into the lineup as either a bottom-line center or left wing, but the Penguins have recently been forced into creative line combinations to jump-start their team.
The Penguins have lost six of seven, including a pair to New Jersey.
Penguins first-string goalie Matt Murray will return to the net against Tampa Bay. The struggling netminder backed-up Casey DeSmith for the past three games.
Murray has struggled this season, occasionally behind poor team efforts. Murray (4-4-1) has just a .886 save percentage and whopping 3.87 goals-against-average. Murray’s last start was Nov. 5 at home against New Jersey. The Penguins coaches mercifully pulled the goalie after the Penguins failed to prevent a string of Grade A chances.
Murray allowed four goals on 27 shots through two periods. The Penguins eventually lost 5-1.
New Face: Tanner Pearson
It’s not yet known where Pearson may find a home in the Penguins lineup, especially without Crosby in the lineup. Pearson is a straight line player who likes to shoot. Though the Penguins dealt their second-line left wing Carl Hagelin for Pearson, so he could begin his Penguins tenure beside another great center.