The Pittsburgh Penguins rolled into Game 5 against the New York Rangers up 3-1 in the series, but left with a loss and possibly down their most important player.
Sidney Crosby left the game in the second period thanks to a high elbow from Ranger defenseman Jacob Trouba.
Despite Trouba having a history of dirty hits to the head, including a separate elbow to Jake Guentzel earlier in the game, there was no call and Crosby was forced out of the game.
Head coach Mike Sullivan stated that there is yet to be an update on Crosby and he will be evaluated upon return to Pittsburgh.
It’s very possible the Penguins will play Game 6 without their captain, but even without Crosby, there is still a path to victory.
The biggest factor in a Game 6 without Crosby will be a man who, over the years, has shined brightest at times without his longtime teammate.
MORE: Mike Sullivan Updates Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry Injuries
Evgeni Malkin, who is known for taking over as one of the league’s best players when Crosby is out, will need to step up in Game 6 as a threat and a leader.
Two assists in Game 5 is great for Malkin, but taking two penalties late may have cost the Penguins the game.
It’s well known that Malkin can lose his mind and take extremely dumb penalties, and if he’s leading the team, that cannot be the case.
Beyond Malkin, the depth has shown flashes of excellence so far in the series, and they will have to continue to contribute without the Penguins top point scorer.
Jeff Carter, Evan Rodrigues, and Danton Heinen have all contributed with multiple goals in the series and they need to find that fire to win.
With Game 6 being played back at PPG Paints Arena, the crowd needs to be a factor.
The Penguins home crowd played a huge role in Games 3 and 4, keeping the team in the game and taking the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin out of it.
Lastly, fans will be looking closely at who is in the Penguins net; Domingue has played to the best of his abilities, but Jarry is getting close to a return.
The second Jarry is healthy enough to play, he needs to be playing and Sullivan said that Jarry is continuing to make significant progress.
Domingue has done a good job of holding his own, but the Penguins can’t have a goalie letting in four goals each game.
Especially if your leading scorer isn’t on the ice, saves will have to be made.
Sullivan stated that Brian Dumoulin and Rickard Rakell are “status quo” with their injuries, so it’s not likely they will be back to play a role in Game 6.
It’s going to take a full team effort if the Penguins are without Crosby, but it’s very well possible they can win the series in six games.
If the Rangers force a seventh game, things might get bleak in Pittsburgh.
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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Nick has had a hand in covering Pittsburgh sports and news since 2018. He is also the co-host of the Tip of the Ice-Burgh Podcast talking all things Penguins.