Penguins star Crosby leaves game following hit to head

It was later reported that Crosby suffered a concussion, and he went on to miss 68 games and 10 months as symptoms lingered.

"He's very positive and we're very optimistic and we're hopeful that we'll get him back in a timely fashion", Sullivan said.

Conor Sheary, one of Crosby's wingers on the top line, also exited the game in the second period and did not return. He was hurt in a collision with teammate Patric Hornqvist at 2:24 of the second. Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead in the second period. He was cutting across the Capitals' goal crease and got tied up with Alex Ovechkin, sending Crosby stumbling to the ice. He was starting to fall toward the ice when the charging Niskanen pummeled him with his stick.

Niskanen earned a major penalty for cross-checking and was given a game misconduct. This hit on Sidney Crosby my Matt Niskanen was disgusting. "I'm not saying (former Rangers coach) Roger Neilson told Graves to go after me, but he told his players to go after me". I just tried to find an option for him and felt like I had that shot. He's coming across trying to score. As he is doing that, he's getting lower and lower. Niskanen had this to say about the hit.

"I hope he's okay, I certainly didn't mean to injure him".

"He's trying to make a play he's getting lower and lower and that's what happened there", Niskanen said. He will not face further discipline, however. The play was upheld under review, only to be overturned due to goaltender interference following a challenge by Capitals coach Barry Trotz. "He just sort of ran into play". There's no reaction to it. Much of the discussion around this incident was around Niskanen and it was generally agreed that Niskanen's actions were reactionary, that he had no choice but to get the shaft of his stick up, that it was an unfortunate result. But of course, it is crucial to analyze the play in real time; hockey is not played in slow motion.

Several Penguins had a different opinion.

I've said it before and I will say it again. I call bull. It's this kind of stuff that those old boys suck up like oxygen and it kills the game. Crosby was in the middle of an MVP run on January, 1, 2011, when he took an elbow to the head from Washington's David Steckel during the Winter Classic, leading to a concussion that cost Crosby the better part of two years in his prime as he struggled to recover.

Crosby has dealt with multiple concussions during his career, including one against Washington in the 2011 Winter Classic that he needed almost two years to fully recover from.

Crosby returns on October 25, racks up 89 points, wins the Art Ross Trophy, and earns a Hart Trophy nomination.