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NHL: Sidney Crosby practices but it's unclear when he might return for Penguins

NHL: Sidney Crosby practices but it's unclear when he might return for Penguins
Penguins star Sidney Crosby practiced for the first time Friday since sustaining a concussion four days ago. (Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Sidney Crosby returned to work Friday, practicing with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates barely four days removed from a frightening hit that left the him with a concussion, and his status for the rest of the playoffs uncertain.

While the two-time MVP declined to get into specifics whether he'll be available for Game 5 at Washington on Saturday, he's keeping his options open.

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"We'll see," Crosby said. "I don't want to rule it out. It's not really up to me. You relay how you feel and they kind of direct you from there."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is in no rush to make a decision on Crosby as the defending Stanley Cup champions try to close out the Capitals.

"We'll see how he responds (to practicing) and go from there," Sullivan said.

Still, the sight of Crosby on the ice and cleared for contact opens the possibility of Crosby playing in the near future — startling considering the way he left the ice in the first period of Game 3 on Monday after getting cross-checked in the head by Washington's Matt Niskanen. The hit left him with his second concussion of the season and at least the fourth of his career. He needed nearly two years to recover from one sustained in January 2011, and missed two weeks when he was diagnosed with a concussion last October.

There's a chance the wait may be even shorter this time for Crosby, who led the league with 44 goals and has four goals and seven assists through eight playoff games. Crosby felt "as good as you could expect" Tuesday morning. He was around to support his teammates during their 3-2 win in Game 4 and skated in full gear during a scheduled off day Thursday before rejoining the group Friday.

While Crosby appreciates the concern about his condition given his concussion history, he stressed he's not rushing back. Game 6 would be Monday night in Pittsburgh if necessary.

"I think having gone through this I'd like to think I'm pretty aware of my body at this point," he said. "I understand the importance of making sure you're good before you come back. I have a lot of belief in our staff here that they're going to do everything in their power to make sure I'm good when I come back."

Etc.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have signed free-agent Russian forward Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year, $9-million contract. General manager George McPhee announced the deal Thursday night.

The 30-year-old Shipachyov had 26 goals and 50 assists in 50 games this season for SKA St. Petersburg to finish third in the Kontinental Hockey League scoring race. He added four goals and 15 assists in 17 playoff games to help St. Petersburg win its second title in three years.

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