PITTSBURGH (KDKA/93-7 The FAN) – The wait is over as the Pittsburgh Penguins have announced their captain will return to the lineup tonight against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center.

Crosby hasn’t played a game since Jan. 5 after suffering the second of back-to-back blows to the head against Tampa Bay. The first hit to the head came against the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field.

He was diagnosed with a concussion and had been out ever since.

Crosby met with doctors Michael Collins and Charles Burke Sunday and was cleared to return to game action. A few hours later the team announced he’d return tonight.

“He saw Dr. Collins today and in conjunction with Dr. Burke, they saw and talked to him. They cleared him,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said, according to the team’s official website. “That was when the decision was made that (Monday) would be the day.”

Crosby has been cleared for contact for over a month, working on implementing contact into his workouts. He experienced no set backs with contact and Bylsma said it’s clear he has returned back to his regular form.

“There will be some time before he totally feels comfortable and back to the level that he was playing when he went on that point streak and those games when he was at that level,” Bylsma said. “It’s easy to see in practice that he’s the best player on the ice with his speed and the way he plays the game. He’ll bring that to the game tomorrow.

“It’ll take some time. Sometimes Game 1 is on adrenaline and it takes a few games for players to get that timing back and speed of the game.”

Crosby did not speak with the media after it was announced he’ll play tonight.

Bylsma said he doesn’t expect Crosby to play more than 20 minutes, as he plans to ease Crosby back in to competition. Crosby will skate on a line with Chris Kunitz ans Pascal Dupuis — a line he’s played on extensively over the past few years.


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