Sidney Crosby won't rush return

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby says he's been free of concussion-like symptoms since being cleared for contact earlier this week, but remains in no rush to suit up for a game for the first time in more than three months.

"I only want to go through this one more time," Crosby said Friday.

The 24-year-old captain hasn't played since the symptoms resurfaced following a loss to Boston on Dec. 5. Doctors allowed him to return to full practice Tuesday, and while Crosby is pleased with the way his body is responding, he refuses to put a date on his return. The Penguins host Florida on Friday night and face the Bruins on Sunday.

"Everything has been good but like I said, I don't think I've really tested (myself) a ton," he said.

The Penguins are in the midst of a four-game homestand that has limited the team's practice time. Coach Dan Bylsma canceled Thursday's session, though Crosby managed to squeeze in a workout with a couple of teammates. He called the bumping he's faced the past three days "minimal," but hasn't had any setbacks.

Crosby said there is no chance he'll play before Sunday and won't make that determination until he skates Saturday.

Although he knows it's impossible to get the same kind of contact in practice that he'll experience in a game, he's going to continue to push himself as far as he can go.

"You're not going to be able to simulate a game anyway, but you have to make sure you're as tested as you can be," he said.

Pittsburgh has been the hottest team in the league even without Crosby. The Penguins entered Friday on a seven-game winning streak to creep within six points of the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.

Crosby waited six weeks between getting cleared for contact and suiting up during his previous attempt at a comeback in the fall. He collected 12 points in eight games before returning to the injured reserve. He doesn't anticipate needing six weeks to get ready this time because the headache and dizziness issues he was dealing with last fall have abated.

"Well, last time it was more to do with symptoms, and I've been symptom-free," he said. "It's more about the amount of contact than the duration."