WASHINGTON (AP) Sidney Crosby returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup for Game 5 against the Washington Capitals after missing the previous game with a concussion.
Crosby is in the lineup five days after being concussed on a cross-check to the head by Matt Niskanen in Game 3. Coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday morning that Crosby had passed his concussion test and was considered a game-time decision.
Conor Sheary was also back after missing Game 4 with a concussion that came as a result of a collision with teammate Patric Hornqvist on Monday.
Pittsburgh leads the second-round series 3-1 and can eliminate Washington with a victory Saturday night. Sullivan said being up in the series didn't factor into the decision for Crosby or Sheary being available.
''We trust our doctors and the process that they go through, and when they tell us that these guys are healthy and are cleared to play, then that's all we need to know,'' Sullivan said after an optional morning skate. ''The health and safety of our players is always the priority and that will never change. But we trust our medical staff, we trust the doctors that are monitoring these guys.
''They know way more about it than the rest of us do. And so, we rely on those guys to monitor these situations and advise us the right way. So I think that's the most prudent way to approach it and that's how we are.''
Crosby has a history of concussions and missed the first six games this season. He skated in full gear Thursday and took part in a full-contact practice Friday, taking rushes with usual linemates Jake Guentzel and Hornqvist.
Crosby has two goals and two assists in parts of three games in this series. His 11 points on four goals and seven assists are tied for fifth among all players in the playoffs, and he led the NHL with 44 goals during the regular season.
''He does everything,'' winger Bryan Rust said. ''He is who he is for a reason, and he plays a full 200-foot game and that would help us all over the ice.''
The NHL's concussion protocol does not stipulate a certain amount of days a player must sit out after being diagnosed. Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Friday he wouldn't be surprised if Crosby was back for Game 5.
Sullivan said it's his experience that players respond to concussions in their own way.
''Some recover quicker than others, and I don't claim to know a whole lot about it and that's why we refer to the people that do,'' he said.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno.
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