Penguins star Crosby leaves following hit to head

The absence of Crosby is a huge blow for the Penguins, who hold a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena.

Defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh's hopes for a repeat crown suffered a major setback on Monday with a head injury to National Hockey League goals leader Sidney Crosby in a 3-2 overtime loss to Washington. I wasn't extending, trying to hit him in the head.

The Penguins additionally announced the loss of forward Conor Sheary, who was also diagnosed with a concussion after colliding with teammate Patric Hornqvist during Monday's game. It was later reported that Crosby suffered a concussion, and he went on to miss 68 games and 10 months as symptoms lingered.

The injury-plagued Penguins were already without top defenseman Kris Letang and starting goalie Matt Murray before the series.

Dave Molinariā€ of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette passed along the update on Crosby's status Tuesday from Pens head coach Mike Sullivan.

With less than two minutes left, the hosts staged the unlikeliest of rallies: two goals with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker; two slapshot blasts, 48 seconds apart.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz called it a "hockey play".

"When a game doesn't go your way, there's a few more areas you're a little more focused on".

"Because you're a fan", Trotz said. "I thought all of that was kind of out of this league, but I guess not". At full speed, it's hard to see it as anything more than a reaction by a guy trained to play as close to the edge as humanly possible.

The former first overall draft pick also missed the opening six games of the current season after suffering his third concussion in training camp. Two goals in the last two minutes of the game by Justin Schultz and Evgeni Malkin tied the game at two. He, too left the ice and didn't return.

But at 33 years old, Backes' game is not what it used to be. Parallel to Pittsburgh's red line, Backstrom fired a wrist shot toward the net.

Niskanen earned a major penalty for cross-checking and was given a game misconduct. Niskanen is absolved of any wrongdoing because reckless play is accepted. It offered an encouraging sign for the Capitals as the margin for error is only getting smaller as the series rolls along. He's just dominating games. Fleury has been at worst unimpeachable and at best brilliant in the five games the Penguins needed to beat the Blue Jackets and the two road victories to open this series.

This wasn't the first time Crosby took an ugly shot to the head from a Capital. The girls game will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the boys game to follow at 8. It changed Monday and the Capitals took their turn playing on their heels for long stretches in the first and second period. Others believe that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was momentarily erased in the final two minutes of regulation, and then salvaged in overtime.

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