PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Sidney Crosby’s recently developed chemistry with linemates Conor Sheary and Dominik Simon took a shot Thursday, as Mike Sullivan announced that Sheary will be out week-to-week with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over San Jose.
Without Sheary, winger Bryan Rust will get the first crack at joining the Penguins’ top unit.
Rust scored a pair of goals while skating on the fourth line Tuesday, but will likely be on Crosby’s right wing when Pittsburgh hosts Metropolitan division leading Washington Friday night.
“That’s definitely something I am proud of and it’s something that allows me to help this team best I can,” Rust said of his versatility. “Playing with (Crosby) and (Simon), if I do, those guys make plays. They make plays pretty much anywhere on the ice.”
The Penguins and Capitals have split their two meetings this season. Pittsburgh won in October, 3-2, with Washington answering a month later in a 4-1 game. Both games took place in Washington.
“Everything is pretty tight in our division,” Crosby said, as his team sits six points in back of the Capitals. “If we want to make a move there, we have to continue to win games and tomorrow is a big challenge with Washington.”
As Rust goes to the top line, winger Ryan Reaves will likely return to the lineup on the fourth line. Carter Rowney, who has not played in nearly a month, could provide some forward depth soon as he recovers from an upper-body injury. Rowney skated in a non-contact jersey Thursday.
Last spring, the Penguins ousted the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in seven games. It was the second season in a row Pittsburgh went through Washington on their way to the Stanley Cup.
“There’s a rivalry between the two teams and I’m sure the two teams will bring out the best in each other,” Crosby added. “But I think there’s some mutual respect there and we’re going out there to compete.”