March 31, 2013

Penguins' Crosby out indefinitely with broken jaw

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby has a broken jaw and is out indefinitely after being hit in the mouth with a puck during a win against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

The Pittsburgh Penguins said on the team website Sunday that Crosby had surgery Saturday night, and there will be an update on his status later in the week.

Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer, was struck in the face during the first period of the Penguins' 2-0 win. Slow-motion replays showed multiple teeth flying out of his mouth after the puck struck him during his first shift. The team said Crosby had "major dental work" and will have more done later in the week.

The Penguins have won 15 straight games, and next play Buffalo on Tuesday.

Crosby has 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists) and holds a 10-point lead in the scoring race. He has not missed a game yet this season after being limited to 22 regular-season games over the prior two calendar years because of concussion-like symptoms and neck issues after absorbing big hits in consecutive games Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, 2011.

Midway through his comeback season, Crosby said he was feeling so good he "doesn't even think about" the risk of concussion or head or neck injury anymore after two years in which it dominated his life. Teammates expressed similar sentiments.

After Saturday's game, Coach Dan Bylsma did not rule out the possibility Crosby would undergo evaluation for a concussion.

"I think every time that type of thing happens to a player you think of that," Bylsma said. "It doesn't matter who it is. ... You think about those things regardless of the player, yes."

There is no indication, however, that Crosby sustained a concussion and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, citing unidentified sources, reported Crosby is free of concussion symptoms.

Led by Crosby, the NHL's leading MVP candidate in this lockout-abbreviated season, the Penguins (28-8) have a league-best 56 points and have opened up a seven-point lead on the Montreal Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference on Saturday.

The playoffs are scheduled to begin April 30.

After a shot from teammate Brooke Orpik deflected off an Islanders player Saturday, an unsuspecting Crosby was struck as he faced away from the net while standing low and to the inside of the left circle.

Crosby immediately collapsed to the ice, his stick flying out of his hand. A pool of blood formed on the ice before training staff came out. Crosby, who wears a visor that covers the top third of his face, soon left the ice, retreating into the locker room under his own power.

The accident overshadowed not only the Pittsburgh's 15th consecutive victory - only one winning streak in NHL history has been longer - but also the Penguins debut of Jarome Iginla.

Acquired via a trade with the Calgary Flames early Thursday morning, Iginla said players on the Penguins' bench were talking and asking about the condition of their captain during the game.

"Very tough," Iginla said. "Very unfortunate play. Seeing on the replay, he didn't see it coming at all."

Crosby won the Hart (MVP) and Art Ross (scoring champion) trophies as a 19-year-old in 2006-07 and shared the Rocket Richard (goal leader) with Steven Stamkos in 2009-10. He became the youngest captain lead his team to the Stanley Cup in 2009.

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