CRANBERRY, Pa. – Sidney Crosby could return for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
The center participated in an optional practice Saturday one day after missing Game 6 of the best-of-7 series, which Pittsburgh lost 5-3. Crosby sustained an upper-body injury in Game 5, being hit by New York defenseman Jacob Trouba at 9:15 of the second period before taking two more shifts and leaving for the locker room.
Crosby took the ice about 23 minutes before practice was scheduled to begin.
“It means a lot. He’s in good spirits,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s in a good place. He’s doing his very best to get himself back and ready as quickly as he can. We’ll see how that process goes. But I think anytime he’s on the ice, it’s good for our team, it’s good for our players, it’s good for our morale. That’s certainly a boost for our guys. “
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Crosby has scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in five games this series, tied with forward Jake Guentzel (seven goals, two assists) for the most on the Penguins. Crosby had a goal and two assists in Game 4, a 7-2 win for Pittsburgh, to reach 200 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (71 goals, 129 assists) in 179 games.
Sullivan said Crosby, goalie Tristan Jarry and forward Rickard Rakell are each day to day and did not rule them out for the game Sunday (7 pm ET; TBS, SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG, ATTSN-PT).
“We’ll take each day as it comes,” Sullivan said. “I’m not going speculate at this point. They’re obviously on the ice. At this point, that’s encouraging. They’re making progress.”
Jarry was the first player on the ice for practice. He has not played since sustaining a lower-body injury April 14. Jarry was 34-18-6 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 58 games (56 starts) this season.
Louis Domingue has started the past five games for Pittsburgh after Casey DeSmithusually the backup, was injured in the second overtime of a 4-3 three-overtime win in Game 1. DeSmith will miss the remainder of the playoffs after having core muscle surgery May 6.
Domingue is 3-3 with a 3.65 GAA and .898 save percentage in six games, having allowed at least four goals in four of his five starts.
Jarry was 2-4 with a 3.18 GAA and .888 save percentage last postseason, when the Penguins were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the first round. His only previous playoff experience came in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, replacing Matt Murray when he allowed one goal on 21 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4.
Rakell, who has been out with an upper-body injury since Game 1, practiced Saturday. He scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 19 regular-season games after being acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on March 21.
Crosby had one goal and one assist in six playoff games last season. The Pittsburgh captain scored six points (three goals, three assists) in 14 games the past three postseasons, each resulting in an opening-round series loss for the Penguins.
“Sid’s Sid,” Penguins center Jeff Carter said. “He’s a leader on and off the ice. He’s a calming presence in the room. We’ll see what happens.”