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Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:10 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Penguins' Crosby to miss next two games with illness

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Sidney Crosby will miss the Pittsburgh Penguins next two games after saying he was healthy enough to play against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Crosby participated in Pittsburgh's morning skate at Consol Energy Center after missing practice on Thursday with an undisclosed illness. Crosby and Penguins coach Mike Johnston each said Crosby felt well enough to play against the Flames following the morning skate.

Medical specialists made a recommendation to sit Crosby over the weekend, against the Flames and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, after further tests came back Friday, according to a release on the Penguins website.

"There is no indication at this time that this is the mumps, but we are going to hold him out as a precaution," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "We'll have additional test results in a few days."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 11:38 AM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Penguins

PITTSBURGHPittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will not play against the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Hornqvist, who did not participate in Pittsburgh’s practice on Friday, will continue to be evaluated for an apparent upper-body injury sustained during the second period of the Penguins’ 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. An update to his status could be provided on Sunday.

Hornqivst ranks second on Pittsburgh with 11 goals, one less than Evgeni Malkin, and third with 25 points, behind Sidney Crosby and Malkin.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 12:44 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canucks at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will adjust their defensive pairings against the Vancouver Canucks (7 p.m. ET, SN360) on Thursday at Consol Energy Center with suspended defenseman Robert Bortuzzo out of the lineup.

Bortuzzo received a two-game suspension Wednesday from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a late hit on New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh held an optional skate Thursday morning, but it is expected defenseman Brian Dumoulin will enter the lineup and potentially play alongside Christian Ehrhoff. Paul Martin with Olli Maatta and Simon Despres with Rob Scuderi are the other probable defensive pairings.

"Obviously there's a little bit of nerves, especially playing in the National Hockey League," Dumoulin said. "But having those games last year definitely helps me know. Knowing some of the guys around the room has made me more comfortable. ... You can't think too much out there. It's really just about keeping my game simple."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 7:17 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, but forward Chris Kunitz is not.

Crosby, along with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, did not participate in Pittsburgh’s morning skate at Consol Energy Center because of undisclosed illnesses. Each player took the ice for the Penguins’ warm-ups on Tuesday.

Kunitz, who has scored nine goals and 20 points in 23 games, filled in for Crosby as the top-line center as well as the second-line left wing during the skate but did not take part in warm-ups. He has an unspecified injury.

Forward Jayson Megna will play in Kunitz’s position, next to center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Blake Comeau on the second line. Crosby will skate between left wing Nick Spaling and right wing Patric Hornqvist. Bortuzzo will be paired with defenseman Paul Martin.

The Penguins are without defenseman Kris Letang, who will miss a second consecutive game after sustaining a lower-body injury late against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Letang did not play against Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., the next night and Johnston labeled him as day-to-day.

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Posted On Friday, 11.28.2014 / 12:47 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will enter a home-and-home series against a Metropolitan Division rival for the second consecutive weekend on Friday.

The Penguins will face the Carolina Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center before travelling to Raleigh for a second matchup a day later. Pittsburgh played consecutive games against the New York Islanders a week ago, when they went 0-1-1.

The Hurricanes are one point out of the division’s basement and don't seem to pose as much of a threat as New York, which is tied with the Penguins atop the division, but Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said Carolina should not be taken lightly.

"They're a quick team, for sure," Johnston said. "And it's a combination of preparing, as we have done with other teams, preparing for Carolina, but also, as we did this morning, reviewing our game. And we have to get our game moved up in a couple areas. So, each week basically, we're taking two or three areas and saying this is what we have to focus on as a team and this is what our opponent does.

"And they are a quick team. They're a quick team down low below the dots. They bring pucks to the net. They spin off checks really well down low there."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.26.2014 / 12:20 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will tweak their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday because of an injury to forward Beau Bennett.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston announced Bennett will miss a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury sustained Monday against the Boston Bruins. Bennett, who has played 54 NHL games in three seasons, will miss his 14th game of this season. He made his season debut against the New York Rangers on Nov. 11 after injuring his knee during training camp.

Forward Jayson Megna, who played on the fourth line against Boston, is expected to fill the void, but his specific role is not known because Pittsburgh did not hold line rushes during its optional morning skate. Megna could replace Bennett as the third-line right wing.

Megna said he wants to help the Penguins third line, which includes center Brandon Sutter and left wing Steve Downie, continue its recent surge in production.

"They've obviously proven that they're a line that can put up points and produce," Megna said. "And they're also responsible in the defensive zone. So I think the key for me is just to play my game and kind of help those guys do what they do and bring what I bring, and hopefully that brings some more productivity to the line."

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Posted On Friday, 11.21.2014 / 12:26 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a new-look top line against the New York Islanders, their first game since it was announced forward Pascal Dupuis will miss at least six months with a potentially career-ending blood clot in his lung.

Dupuis did not play against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday after skating at right wing alongside center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz in the previous two games. With him out of the lineup, forward Blake Comeau moved up from the fourth line to join Crosby and Kunitz.

Comeau said he will not attempt to replace Dupuis because that would be a difficult task.

"He was one of the guys who kind of took me under his wing," Comeau said. "He's such a big leader in the dressing room. He brings that work ethic, that grit, that hard style of play every game. So it's definitely tough shoes to fill."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.15.2014 / 12:57 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to increase their intensity Saturday after a lopsided Rangers win four days ago.

The Rangers, who held an optional morning skate Saturday, enter their game at Consol Energy Center off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. But New York might have had its best performance of the season in its prior game, a 5-0 win against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden.

Saturday is expected to play out differently according to the Rangers locker room. Forward Mats Zuccarello, who scored one of the Rangers' three first-period goals Tuesday, thinks the Penguins will be better prepared and New York will have to fight to earn two points in Pittsburgh.

"It's their home rink here and they want to redeem themselves a little bit from the last game," Zuccarello said. "So, we have to be ready from the get go."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.01.2014 / 1:51 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Penguins

PITTSBURGH – The Buffalo Sabres are aware their special teams have to improve if they are to compete Saturday with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

Buffalo scored its first power-play goal of the season Thursday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. The Penguins, who have also killed 22 consecutive penalties, scored one more power-play goal in a 3-0 win Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings than the Sabres have through their first 11 games this season.

Pittsburgh’s NHL-best power play dipped in percentage to a 39.5 percent success rate following Thursday. Buffalo’s rose to 2.9 percent.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.30.2014 / 1:02 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Anze Kopitar (upper body) participated in the Los Angeles Kings' morning skate at Conosl Energy Center, but most likely will not play Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN360,TVA SPORTS2).

Kopitar, who missed Los Angeles' 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, skated in Pittsburgh the past two days. He's had a slow start this season with two goals and three points in eight games.

He did not participate in line rushes.

The Kings recalled forward David Van Der Gulik from Manchester of the American Hockey League on Thursday. Van Der Gulik is expected to slot in as the fourth-line left wing alongside center Andy Andreoff and right wing Jordan Nolan.

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Quote of the Day

He's a strong kid. He's a competitive kid, and certainly not afraid to go into the corners. He's got the skating ability to escape and help us execute in certain situations, but he's got that competitive nature that's a huge part of it too, especially against a team like this.

— Wild coach Mike Yeo on defenseman Matt Dumba, who used a hard slap shot to score his first career playoff goal in Game 1 win vs. Blues