TAMPA, Fla. -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said this morning he expects to return to the lineup and play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Crosby has missed 21 games because of a right high ankle sprain.
"It's been a while, so I'm looking forward to it," Crosby said after participating in the Penguins' morning skate at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Crosby was leading the NHL in scoring with 63 points when he was injured Jan. 18 as his foot bent awkwardly as he slid into the boards during a game with tonight's opponent, Tampa Bay.
The Penguins have gone 11-6-4 without Crosby and remain in strong contention for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference titles.
Crosby said his ankle began to feel noticeably better last week when he skated in Pittsburgh while the team was on the road. He approached coach Michel Therrien yesterday about possibly playing tonight after skating in Pittsburgh and flying here with the team, then sealed his return when he felt good during today's morning skate.
"I feel pretty strong right now," he said. "That's what I based my decision on -- how much strength I had and whether I was able to do things out there that I normally could do. I think I've made sure of that."
Crosby, 20, won the NHL scoring title and MVP award last season.