Crosby was felled by a blindside hit to the head from then-Capitals center David Steckel just before the end of the second period. He got up gingerly and had a noticeable limp as he walked to the locker room. But he took the Penguins' first shift of the third period.
"He got my head, for sure," Crosby said after the game. "But I can't comment on it. I don't even know. Maybe it was so far behind the play the officials didn't see it."
During in an 8-1 home win over Tampa Bay, Crosby was injured again when he was driven into the boards headfirst by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Crosby finished that game and flew to Montreal with the team that night. When his condition did not improve, he returned to Pittsburgh on Jan. 6 for further tests.
After Crosby missed a game against the Montreal Canadiens, the Penguins announced that Crosby was expected to be sidelined for a week because of a concussion. He was leading the NHL with 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games.
The Penguins center said he would not resume practicing or playing until he was symptom-free and he hoped the NHL would take a closer look at how blindside hits are affecting the game.
"I know it's a fast game, and I think if anybody understands it's a fast game -- I've been hit a thousand times," Crosby said. "But when you get hit like that, there's nothing you can do. There's no way you can protect yourself. Those are things that hopefully [the NHL] pays more attention to."
One week after taking his second blow to the head, Crosby was still feeling the effects of a concussion and was now considered out indefinitely. "I believe he's getting tested again this week, and he's getting better," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said on Jan. 12. "But we're not going to progress forward until the symptoms subside."
Crosby said he had made progress and hadn't ruled out playing in the All-Star Game. He also denied reports that he was fuming about the league's lack of progress in protecting its players and possibly would withdraw from the Jan. 30 game in protest.
The Penguins announced on their website that Crosby had been approved to participate in light workouts. A source within the organization told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he was cleared for light, off-ice workouts only.
With Evgeni Malkin now out indefinitely with torn knee ligaments, the Penguins said they had no firm date for Crosby's return. Crosby left the team the week before to visit his parents outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. "The schedule with Sidney, we thought he would return sometime this week. There wasn't a definite date or definite day," Bylsma said.
As reports circulated that Crosby saw stars immediately when tried to work out, his agent, Pat Brisson, told ESPN.com that people were overanalyzing the situation: "He is resting right now until he is symptom-free to resume light exercise."
Crosby visited the Penguins during morning skate for the first time since leaving the team to visit his parents. "I hope I'm back and I hope I play this year," Crosby said. "That's the thing with [concussions], you don't know."
After completing two trades to add three players to the injury-depleted Penguins lineup, Shero said "It's the unknown," whether Crosby would return this season. Crosby's agent told ESPN.com the next day that Crosby was not symptom-free. "We have to go a day at a time, anyone in the media speculating that his season is over is jumping the gun. No one knows. That's the truth. All we know is that we have to be extremely cautious," Brisson said.
Bylsma said there had been some progress with Crosby, but it remained unclear exactly what that really meant. "He's been doing a lot better," said Bylsma. "We hope that means he will return to 100 percent health sometime this spring. [But] I can't give you any kind of date on it."
Now playing for the New Jersey Devils, Steckel said he remains remorseful and apologetic about his unintentional hit on Crosby. "It was completely unintentional," Steckel said. "I didn't mean to hit him at all. I tried to get out of the way. And it's unfortunate because I feel bad that he's been out for so long. It's one of those things that's obviously uncertain."
Troy Crosby refuted a report that the family was trying to convince Sidney Crosby to retire: "Not at all. We're just trying to get him healthy again. However long that takes, that's how long it's going to take."
Crosby skated for the first time but said he was still proceeding with caution: "I feel good. It's really early. It's just part of progress and trying to get better. I felt pretty good doing some light workouts. I was told I had the opportunity to skate. I went out there for 15 minutes to see how I felt. No real plan going forward. I felt good, so that's a good sign."
Crosby was cleared to participate in the team's morning skate on game days, but Shero made it known that nothing else should be read into that promising development. Crosby was not cleared for full practices, including contact drills, with his teammates yet.
"It's a natural return for his progression here. His rehab has been ongoing," Shero said. "He's doing well with it, but at the same time, as a manager, I have no expectations of him coming back and playing in the regular season. That's not going to happen."
Crosby took part in a no-contact game-day skate as Pittsburgh prepared for its night matchup against Tampa Bay. "It was just fun, a lot of fun to be back out there even though I'm not playing," Crosby said. "It's nice to be around the guys. I've spent a lot of time at home and guys have been on the road. It's nice to join them and get back out there."
Seen as a positive sign, Crosby skated with the team for a second straight day, but Bylsma was still cautious. "The progression that he's at is still a long ways away," Bylsma said. "The timetable hasn't been established at all and he still has several other aspects to go through in terms of what he needs to do."
Crosby sat with team management and goalie coach Gilles Meloche in the media area, wearing a headset to stay in contact with the coaching staff on the bench, as the Penguins won Game 1 against the Bolts.
Crosby was cleared by team doctors to start offseason, off-ice workouts. "Everything will be closely managed by Dr. Collins," Shero said, "in terms of his progression leading up to him getting on the ice later in the summer per his usual routine."
More rumors created a stir when a report came out that Crosby's career was in jeopardy. "It is very disturbing and disappointing to me when someone from the media and especially an ex-player brings such baseless comments toward the medical status of player. Unless a report comes from the medical staff and or an official voice for the player it's of no merit whatsoever,'' Brisson said in a statement he sent ESPN.com and other media outlets.
Shero said the former MVP is still dealing with concussion-like symptoms and it's too soon to know if Crosby will be available when the Penguins open camp in September. "There's no expectation from me that he won't be ready or he will be ready," said Shero.