13/05/03 Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will return to the lineup for the first time in more than a month on Friday night, as his team attempts to take a 2-0 series lead over the New York Islanders in their Eastern Conference quarter-final. The 25-year-old has been sidelined since March 30, when he was struck in the face by an errant puck. He has been skating with the team, recovering from a broken jaw. “I feel good,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m cleared to play tonight. I’m excited to get back in there and play in the playoffs. I think it’s going to take a bit of an adjustment period. I’m stepping into the playoffs after this much time. That being said, this is when you want to play.” Pittsburgh opened the series with a 5-0 win over New York earlier in the week. News of Crosby’s return was announced following the team’s pre-game morning skate on Friday. According to the team’s website, Crosby skated on a line with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz on Friday morning. He was also part of the first power-play unit. “[The doctor] was around and I wasn’t sure if he would give me the OK or even consider it,” Crosby said, on the team’s website. “I’m happy that he did and happy to be back. … He’s comfortable with me getting hit at this point. That’s the biggest thing. He has to be comfortable putting me out there. To hear him say that allows me to be comfortable, too.” Crosby finished fourth in the NHL’s scoring race despite missing 12 games due to the injury. He was averaging 1.56 points a game before he went down. “Someone has pointed that out before, that when he has come back in the past, that he makes an impact immediately when he plays. I joked before that I should hold him out for a really important game,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We’re looking forward to getting him back with our group, with our team, with his line when that happens.”
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