Sports Outside the Beltway

Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby out with ankle injury

It is uncertain how long last season’s leading scorer will be out for. From AP-

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby badly sprained an ankle while ramming into the boards in the first period, and the Andre Roy-led Tampa Bay Lightning took advantage of his absence for a 3-0 victory over the Penguins on Friday night.

Crosby was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, an injury to the large ligament that connects the two biggest bones in the lower leg, the tibia and fibula. The injury is more serious than the traditional twisted ankle and can sideline an athlete for a month or more.

Roy, a Pittsburgh castoff, had a goal and two assists to figure in all three goals as the Lightning won for only the third time in 12 games (3-7-2). Tampa Bay had been an NHL-worst 5-14-3 on the road.

Crosby, tied for the NHL scoring lead with 63 points coming into the game, was shooting from the edge of the right circle when Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger rammed him with his stick halfway through the first period. Crosby dropped to the ice on his rear end but managed to swipe at the puck a second time before ramming awkwardly into the rear boards, his left leg up.

Crosby’s right ankle appeared to twist to the side as that leg absorbed the impact of the collision. Crosby initially got up and began to limp toward the bench, only to turn around and enter a tunnel to the Penguins locker room. He pulled up in visible pain in the walkway and had to be helped the rest of the way.

The Penguins said Crosby would be re-examined Saturday by team doctors. If the early diagnosis is accurate, last season’s NHL scoring champion and MVP seems certain to miss the Jan. 27 All-Star game at Atlanta. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been out since Dec. 6 with the same injury.

I think Pittsburgh can survive the temporary loss of Crosby and still advance to the playoffs this season. The southeast division is so weak or mediocre this year, only the division winner is likely to make the playoffs. That leaves the Penguins one of 10 teams fighting for the other 7 spots.

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