Sidney Crosby looks more hopeful

PITTSBURGH -- If the signs leading up to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders pointed to Sidney Crosby not being able to play, indications were at least more hopeful Thursday, even if there is no timetable for Crosby's return from a broken jaw.

Although Crosby spent the day before the Penguins' series-opening 5-0 win on Wednesday night skating on his own or working out with other players not in the lineup, the Pens' captain returned to the ice Thursday and skated with his normal linemates, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. He also worked with the team's top power-play unit, something he didn't do prior to Game 1.

Still, Crosby was noncommittal about his availability for Game 2 Friday night in Pittsburgh.

"No, nothing has changed from yesterday. I'll just kind of continue getting ready to go," Crosby said after Thursday's workout. "It's nice to get in a couple of reps before I eventually get in there. I think it's nice to get out there and move the puck around and get in some game situations. I won't get any games before this, so I've just got to make sure I get in as much as I can."

Crosby must be medically cleared by a doctor before he can play and said that while there hasn't been a formal meeting planned with the doctor, they still continue to stay in touch.

"There's been a lot of communicating through this whole process anyway, and that won't change," Crosby said.

The fact that the Pens handled the Islanders with relative ease in Game 1 has no bearing on Crosby's determination to return to the lineup, he said.

"I don't think it changes my mindset either way, to be honest. I think we have high expectations," Crosby said. "I think we've proven when guys have been out that we play well and can find a way to win games. I think as an injured guy, you always want to get back no matter what, no matter if the team is doing well or not doing well. You always want to be with them."

Although head coach Dan Bylsma would not discuss the team's injury issues, James Neal did not skate Thursday. He missed most of the last two periods of Game 1 after getting tangled up with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.

But Jussi Jokinen, who looked to be in pain after a collision with Marty Reasoner late in Game 1, did practice, as did Brooks Orpik, who missed Game 1 with an injury he sustained late in the regular season.