TAMPA — Lightning D Victor Hedman said he has watched the replay of his check on Penguins star Sidney Crosby several times and is positive "it wasn't my hit that created problems."
Crosby has been out since Jan. 5 because of a concussion sustained, it is believed, during the Jan. 1 Winter Classic by a devastating hit to the head from then-Capitals C David Steckel.
He was not sidelined until Jan. 5, after Crosby's head hit the glass at the Consol Energy Center after Hedman's seemingly innocent check from behind.
The Penguins never said which hit caused the injury, "so it was easy for them to point fingers at me," Hedman said.
And some media reports continue to give as much weight to Hedman's hit, for which he was given a minor boarding penalty.
All Crosby said Thursday was, "It probably didn't help."
No wonder reporters surrounded Hedman, 20, asking him what he believes happened.
Hedman said he didn't even know he was checking Crosby. He said, and replays showed, his check was not a head shot.
Besides, he added, "I'm not an overly physical player. I'm not looking for the big hit. It's not fun to see him go down and to see him get hurt. But it's one of those things, you just follow through on a guy. I'd make the same play."
Crosby on Thursday skated with his teammates for the first time since the hit. There is no timetable for his return. The hope is he is ready for the playoffs and a possible first-round matchup with Tampa Bay.
Asked if he expects to be booed by Penguins fans, Hedman said, "If they want to boo me, go ahead. I don't care much about that. It's part of hockey, too."
Malone returns: W Ryan Malone was in the lineup after missing 21 straight games with a groin injury. He had 10:52 of ice time with three shots and five hits and felt "pretty good."
Coach Guy Boucher said he will not overwork Malone and might sit him Sunday at Chicago and April 9 at Carolina in the regular-season finale.
"We want to get him in there, but we want to be smart about it, too," Boucher said.
Desjardins hurt: Cedrick Desjardins could be done for the season after the goalie for AHL Norfolk on Wednesday aggravated the right shoulder injury that has bothered him since mid January.
"We're holding out hope," said Admirals GM Julien BriseBois, who added Desjardins will try to rehab without surgery.
Jaroslav Janus was recalled from ECHL Florida.
Waterlogged: Here's an image: star Steven Stamkos and teammates Steve Downie and Mike Smith, in the rain, pushing Stamkos' stalled Mercedes off Bayshore Boulevard.
Seems Stamkos and Downie were driving to lunch Thursday when the car hit a mini lake.
"There was about 2 feet of water," Stamkos said. "The car is too low. It's not an SUV, so 2 feet of water, it hydroplaned."
When it was clear the car was not going anywhere, Stamkos called Smith for help, and the three pushed it out of the way.
"Then we went to lunch," Stamkos said, adding the car was towed to a dealership.
Odds and ends: The Chicago game will be on Sun Sports. … D Randy Jones (ankle), D Matt Smaby and D Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched.