PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins milled quietly about their dressing room deep inside Consol Energy Center on Monday, slowly getting back to work following a welcomed few days off for the All-Star break.
As the players chatted about their current seven-game winning streak, the spectacular play of center Evgeni Malkin and the prospects of catching the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference lead, a familiar image flickered on a nearby TV. More than one player stopped to watch. There was Sidney Crosby, streaking down the ice against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21, scoring in spectacular fashion.
As solid as the NHL's hottest team has looked over the last two weeks, the main question heading into the stretch remains the same now as it did when the season began in October.
When is Sid the Kid coming back?
And while coach Dan Bylsma refuses to put a timetable on Crosby's return, there at least appears to be a sense of optimism despite news over the weekend the 24-year-old superstar suffered a neck injury last January that perhaps complicated his nearly 11-month recovery from a concussion.
Crosby, who hasn't played since concussion-like symptoms returned following a Dec. 5 loss to Boston, skated on the Consol ice for the first time in more than six weeks on Monday, joining fellow injured teammates Simon Despres and Jordan Staal for a brief workout.
The team acknowledged on Saturday that neurological spine specialist Dr. Robert S. Bray in Los Angeles discovered an unspecified neck injury that was "fully healed."
An independent physician is studying the findings before the team makes any sort of determination on Crosby's next step.
Around the boards
*The Carolina Hurricanes have signed defenseman Tim Gleason to a four-year contract extension worth $16 million. The 29-year-old Gleason, who would've been an unrestricted free agent after the season, leads the team's defensemen with 87 hits and a plus-minus rating of plus-2. He is making $3.5 million this year.
*Sabres prospect Zack Kassian and West Seneca native and Predators prospect Chris Mueller failed to record points but were on the winning team as the Western Conference rallied to beat the Eastern squad, 8-7, via shootout in the AHL All-Star Game Monday night in Atlantic City, N.J.
*Canisius College graduate Cory Conacher, the Griffs' all-time scoring leader, finished with two goals and an assist for the Eastern Conference. The rookie has 25 goals and 49 points in 44 games with Norfolk.