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Penguins’ Crosby, Jarry, Rakell cleared to play for series finale vs. Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and goaltender Tristan Jarry are considered “game-time decisions” for Game 7 against the hometown New York Rangers on Sunday night, head coach Mike Sullivan says.

Sullivan did not name his starting goaltender for the 7 p.m. ET start while addressing reporters shortly after Sunday’s optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden. Jarry participated in the session. Crosby did not.

WATCH | Crosby injured during Penguins’ Game 5 loss:

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby undergoing evaluation after leaving Game 5 with an injury

3 days ago

Duration 0:25

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is undergoing a medical evaluation after he was injured during Pittsburgh’s 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

The winner will play the Carolina Hurricanes in one Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Crosby missed Friday’s 5-3 loss in Pittsburgh in Game 6 as the Penguins failed to close out the first-round Eastern Conference series for the second straight game. Jarry has been out since April 14 with a foot injury.

Crosby was injured in the second period of Wednesday’s Game 5 loss when he took a high, hard hit from Rangers defenceman Jacob Trouba. The Athletic reported Crosby suffered a concussion.

Crosby has two goals and nine points in the series. In the regular season, the three-time Stanley Cup champion had 31 goals and 84 points in 69 contests.

Jarry, 27, made the all-star team this season and finished 34-18-6 with four shutouts, a 2.42 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

Per Sullivan, forward Rickard Rakell also is considered a game-time decision. He sustained an upper-body injury during the series opener.

Blue-liner Brian Dumoulin remains out of Sunday’s contest, while forward Brian  Boyle is week-to-week. Both have lower-body injuries.

Costly trip and elbow

The NHL on Sunday fined defencemen Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins and Brendan Smith of the Carolina Hurricanes for separate incidents during Game 7 of their teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series.

McAvoy is $5,000 US lighter in the pocket after tripping Carolina blue-liner Brady Skjei during the third period of Saturday’s game. The fine is the maximum allowable under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Smith, in turn, received the maximum fine of $2,000 from the NHL for elbowing Boston forward David Pastrnak during the third period.

The Hurricanes posted a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Saturday to win the best-of-seven series. They advanced to the conference semifinals and will face the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Penguins and Rangers.

Banged-up Capitals

Nicklas Backstrom gutted through a hip injury that caused him to miss the first two months of the season, and Tom Wilson as hard as he tried couldn’t do the same in the playoffs on a bad knee.

Now it’s possible neither is on the ice when the puck drops next season.

The Washington Capitals could be in for a long summer that bleeds into fall given the uncertainty surrounding Backstrom, Wilson and winger Carl Hagelin, who hopes to play hockey again after a scary incident almost cost him his left eye. Wilson could be headed for surgery for what he called a pretty significant knee injury, and Backstrom’s future is in doubt with a big decision looming.

“The best thing I want to do is play hockey, and that’s my life,” Backstrom said. “Obviously I want to be back. I want to be back to normal, not worrying about this. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Asked if it was possible Backstrom’s career was in jeopardy, general manager Brian MacLellan did not directly answer and said: “I think he’s going to explore all options here. He wants it to be better. He wants to be more physically comfortable when he plays, so he’s going to explore it.”

Tweaked left knee

Backstrom missed the first two months of the season rehabbing his left hip, which he had surgery on in 2015 and acknowledges will never be fully healthy. MacLellan said it was not sustainable for the 34-year-old center to continue playing as he has since December.

Wilson missed almost all of Washington’s first-round series against Florida after tweaking his left knee avoiding a hit in Game 1 on May 3. He skated a couple of times in the hopes of returning, but that was never a realistic possibility given the damage.

Captain Alex Ovechkin said he’s flying home to Moscow on Monday and won’t need surgery on his banged-up left shoulder. He missed the final three games of the regular season before returning for the start of the playoffs and putting up a goal and five assists.

Winger T.J. Oshie needed plenty of treatment to play through a litany of injuries, including a broken right foot early in the season and a bad back that flared up. He was still Washington’s leading scorer in the Panthers series with seven points on six goals and an assist.

Hagelin has been out since taking a teammate’s errant stick to his left eye in practice March 1, rupturing the choroid so badly doctors considered removing it. The 33-year-old Swede had two surgeries and is more optimistic now than two months ago about playing next season, even though his vision will never be 100 per cent again.

The status of Backstrom, Wilson and Hagelin affects what the Capitals will try to do this summer after a fourth consecutive first-round exit since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018.

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