March 31, 2013 2:08 am

Crosby loses several teeth after being hit in the mouth by puck

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) is helped by referee Ian Walsh (29) after being hit in the face with a puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 30, 2013. Crosby left the game.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby lost several teeth and needed oral surgery after he was hit in the mouth with a puck during a 2-0 victory against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Coach Dan Bylsma wasn’t sure if the injury affected Crosby’s jaw and didn’t know if he would miss any more time. The Penguins, who have won a league-high 15 straight games, host Buffalo on Tuesday.

“I just know he had some issues with his teeth,” Bylsma said. “Just from the replay I know that.”

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Bylsma saw enough to become concerned about the health of the team’s biggest star, particularly because of his well-documented history battling concussion problems.

Crosby missed considerable time the past two years because of concussions. He was sidelined for the final 41 games in 2011 and the Stanley Cup playoffs, in addition to skipping most of the 2012 regular season as symptoms lingered.

“I think every time that type of thing happens to a player you think about it,” Bylsma said.

Crosby has enjoyed a resurgence this season, leading the league with 41 assists and 56 points. He holds a 10-point lead over Steven Stamkos in the NHL scoring race.

Saturday’s injury could hinder Crosby’s march to the scoring title.

A bloodied Crosby, who did not return to the game, skated off the ice with a towel covering his mouth after Brooks Orpik’s slap shot from the point deflected off a stick and hit the Canadian centre just 1:28 into the game.

“When you see the replay, he had no chance to move,” said newly acquired star forward Jarome Iginla, who made his Penguins debut after a blockbuster trade early Thursday morning with the Calgary Flames.

“He didn’t see it hit him. It’s a very, very unfortunate play.”

Crosby immediately fell to the ice and tossed his stick in the air. He then went to the hospital for surgery.

“It’s very tough to see that happen to anybody on the ice, but this is your teammate, and Sid’s such a great player and a big part of this team,” Iginla said.

“He’s a tough guy and a competitor. Guys were definitely checking to see how he was doing.”

Pittsburgh still managed to go on to its 15th straight win, moving within two of the NHL record set by Mario Lemieux and the 1992-93 Penguins.

© The Associated Press, 2013

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