Monday, May 1, 2017

Watch: Crosby Knocked out of Game by Niskanen Hit to Head

Sidney Crosby took a head shot from Washington's Matt Niskanen and has yet to return (full video above). The incident, which resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for Niskanen, happened early in the first period of Game 3 in Pittsburgh when Crosby lost his balance while skating across the slot. After Crosby was knocked off-balance by some stickwork by Alexander Ovechkin, Niskanen hit him hard and directly to the head--Crosby would need about two minutes before being helped to his feet and leaving the game.

Niskanen's intent was unclear on the play, he appeared to react defensively to Crosby, who was falling in his direction at a fast pace, but ended up delivering a solid crosscheck to the head. Was Niskanen simply reacting and protecting himself, or did he see an opportunity to put a damaging hit on Crosby, a player who was falling and vulnerable?

That will likely be for the NHL's Department of Player Safety to decide, if they have Niskanen in for a hearing.

The larger issue is whether or not Crosby will be fit to return, and if so, when?

Crosby missed the first six games of the season with the third documented concussion of his career. Since his return on October 25, he has been in great form, putting up 44 goals and 89 points in 75 games. The 29-year-old Hart Trophy nominee already has 11 points in seven games in this year's playoffs.

The second period has started in Pittsburgh and Crosby has not returned to the ice.