Penguins centre Sidney Crosby practices, could return Tuesday

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Crosby, who leads the Penguins and is eighth in the league with 30 points in 19 games, has missed three games since injuring his groin Nov. 20 in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh is 0-1-2 and has scored only five goals in three games without him in the lineup.

"It felt better," Crosby said after practice. "It was good to get a chance to practice, and I'm not feeling much pain. We will see how I feel tomorrow, but I was happy with the way it felt today."

Crosby said the decision of whether to play will be made by him and the club's medical staff. He described the pain as sharp at times, but said he can skate pain-free for a long time before feeling it.

"You feel good for 10 minutes, and all of a sudden, you make a move and - boom," Crosby said.

Crosby did not appear to hold back at all during the full-contact practice and admitted he forgot about the injury while on the ice. Still, because of the lingering nature of groin injuries, he will not play until it is certain the risk of re-aggravating the injury is minimal. He has been receiving treatment daily.

"He looked good and I hope he's going to be there tomorrow," coach Michel Therrien said.

The Penguins spent a good portion of their practice working on special teams.

The power play is perhaps where the team misses Crosby the most. Pittsburgh is 2-for-24 without him - including failed opportunities on five 5-on-3 power plays.

"He's an important piece of that puzzle, there's no doubt," Therrien said. "He's one of those special players that can control plays, make great plays."

Crosby missed only one game last season, and that was due to flu-like symptoms.

He said the decision of whether to play Tuesday night will likely be made after the morning skate.

"It's frustrating, but it takes time," Crosby said. "The main thing is, I don't want to do anything that's going to make this more time than it needs to be. We're trying to be patient with it. That's not easy, but hopefully it will get better."

Notes: Therrien said winger Michel Ouellet, who has missed the past three of the past four games with a hamstring injury, will not play Tuesday and could be out of action another week or more.