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If Sidney Crosby’s concussion issues linger, will the NHL face an 2011 All-Star Game headache?

Aside from flat-out fatigue and/or disinterest, star injuries are possibly the biggest threat to the entertainment value of any All-Star game that takes place during a sport’s season. Any hit in any game can render an important talent unable to participate.

Considering the fact that Sidney Crosby is dealing with concussion problems, former All-Star and current NHL executive Brendan Shanahan must grapple with the possibility that the game’s biggest name might need to miss the event. Calgary Sun columnist Eric Francis notes that Shanahan’s plan was to announce the two teams’ captains this week, but Crosby’s in-limbo status might throw a wrench in those plans.

Francis notes that the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t giving daily updates on Crosby’s status anymore, but he phoned the player’s agent Pat Brisson. Brisson basically backed up other reports, stating that Crosby seems to be getting better but is still dealing with some symptoms.

The Penguins have stopped giving daily updates on Crosby, but his agent talked to him Saturday and told the Sun his post-concussion symptoms are still there.

“He feels better, but he’s still not there,” said Pat Brisson.

“He’s groggy in the morning and doesn’t feel too good.He’ll feel better for five or six hours, and then it gets worse. It’s the grogginess more than anything. He had severe neck pain after the (David) Steckel hit, but it’s going away a bit.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Shelly Anderson writes that Crosby is still very involved with the team even though he hasn’t been cleared to actually take place in any workouts or practices.

Bylsma added that Crosby, the ultimate grown-up rink rat, is staying involved as best he can while he recovers from a concussion that has kept him off the ice for the past four games.

“It’s funny,” Bylsma said. “Physical activity is not something that he’s involved in right now, but he’s been around the rink an awful lot talking hockey, thinking about the power play, doing things to try to stay motivated and be involved.”

As you’ve probably noticed, guessing when a player might return from concussion problems is a fool’s errand. So instead of speculating regarding when Crosby might return, we’ll pass along updates on his condition.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.