Crosby hasn't played since March 30, when a deflected shot broke his jaw. He's expected to seek medical clearance Thursday or Friday to resume playing, which could put him on track for Game 1 of the postseason. Though the schedule has yet to be released, the Penguins will open at home, likely on Wednesday.
Team officials and the coaching staff would also like to see Crosby practice with team-mates before inserting him into a game.
Upon his return, Crosby will likely wear a plastic shield as protection.
The Ottawa Senators will receive a major boost in their quest for a play-off spot, when Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson returns to the line-up.
Karlsson told reporters in Washington that he'll play Thursday against the Capitals. Originally expected to miss four to six months after surgery Feb. 14 to fix a laceration in his left Achilles tendon, Karlsson will come back after just 10 weeks.
"I have no concerns," Senators coach Paul MacLean said when asked if Karlsson was returning too soon. "If he says he's ready to play, then he's ready to play.
He's done the work."
Karlsson led NHL defensemen in scoring last season with 78 points. He had six goals and four assists in 14 games when he was hurt Feb. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Nashville Predators, eliminated from the play-offs, recalled forward Joonas Rask from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee for their final two games of the season, and assigned forwards Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson to the Admirals.
Rask, 23, had a goal and an assist in his only AHL game on April 19 against Charlotte. A seventh-round draft pick, he is younger brother of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
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