Sidney Crosby may be able to play soon. (Paul Chiasson / AP)

“The big step is contact,” Crosby said. “Hopefully, I can do that for a few days and get back out there.”

Crosby originally was injured in January 2011 and missed the rest of the season; he has played in only eight games this season. What originally was diagnosed as concussion symptoms later was determined to be a soft-tissue problem in his neck.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be like Christmas morning one day,” Ben Lovejoy said. “We’re going to walk in and, ‘Oh, cool. We get the best player in the world back.’ ”

Crosby did not indicate a target date, but suggested that he could play as early as Sunday against the Boston Bruins.

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