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THIBAULT RETURNS TO PRACTICE; CROSBY, JACKMAN, WHITNEY ARE OK

Thursday, 11.17.2005 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins left Philadelphia with an exciting 3-2 overtime victory.

They also came away with no serious injuries as Jocelyn Thibault, Sidney Crosby, Ric Jackman and Ryan Whitney had no major lasting effects from the contest.

Thibault didn’t even last until game time before he was hurt. Konstantin Koltsov’s wrist shot in pregame warm-ups struck Thibault in the throat. The goaltender flipped off his mask and grabbed his throat. The Penguins’ medical staff quickly came to his aid.

“I wasn’t really worried,” Thibault said. “I have taken some worse shots in the throat before. I was spitting some blood for a couple minutes. Anytime that happens, the doctors are very defensive.

“I kinda got lucky because it hit me in more of my neck muscle than my trachea,” he continued. “I turned my head at the right time and it hit the big neck muscles. I am good. It just gave me a little scare.”

Thibault was scheduled to make the start in net against the Flyers. Instead, the Marc-Andre Fleury played in goal for the Penguins.

“My throat was swelling up and my voice was changing a little bit. I still wanted to play, but they thought it was probably going to swell up even more during the game in the first couple of hours,” Thibault said. “They thought it wasn’t a good thing for me to be playing out there and to be caught short of breath. That’s why they told me it was better not to play.

“You don’t want to leave the other goalie in that situation. The other goalie hasn’t really prepared to play the game,” he continued. “I didn’t want to put Marc-Andre in that situation, but it turned out to be a good night for him.”

Fleury stopped 45 of 47 Flyers shots to earn the hard-fought win. Initially, Thibault was on the bench for the contest. However, he was taken to a Philadelphia-area hospital as a precaution.

“Yeah, my throat swelled up a little during the game. The doctors were concerned about that, so they sent me to the hospital for a CAT scan and to make sure everything was OK,” he said. “I was spitting some blood a bit, there was a little internal bleeding. Everything is fine. It was more of a precautionary move for not playing me.”

Thibault practiced Thursday morning and said he experienced no problems.

“It wasn’t too bad. Right now, my throat is pretty good. It’s a little itchy and burning,” he said. “It’s good; I can breathe real well. On the ice, I felt really good. My breathing didn’t feel restrained, so it was good.”

However, he added a neckguard to his goalie mask to prevent any further injury.

“I wore it on the ice and it didn’t bother me,” Thibault said. “I was worried this morning if it was going to bother me, but it actually felt pretty good. I will wear it [Friday] and if it feels good, I will wear it for the games.”

Meanwhile, Crosby sported four stitches in his upper lip and two chipped front teeth courtesy of Derian Hatcher’s high stick.

“I am not too worried about it. I pretty much realized it was going to happen, but not 20 games in,” Crosby said. “I will have to see a dentist and see what he says.”

Crosby was not wearing a protective mouthpiece and says he doesn’t plan to, either.

“It was in my gear bag, but I didn’t wear it,” he said. “I still won’t wear one.”

Jackman (foot) and Whitney (hand) appeared to be OK after getting hit by Flyers shots. Both players practiced. X-rays on Whitney’s right hand were negative. A significant amount of swelling was apparent Thursday, but the rookie did not complain of any problems.

Meanwhile, Mario Lemieux (stomach virus) and Sergei Gonchar (strained groin) remain day-to-day. They did not practice on Thursday.

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