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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 12:04 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Zatkoff starts for Penguins against Lightning

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup should not look substantially different when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Goalie Jeff Zatkoff will start for Pittsburgh in the first of back-to-back games this weekend. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will most likely start for the Penguins against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday at Consol Energy Center.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not provide any other lineup updates.

Zatkoff will get his second start in Pittsburgh's past three games after starting two of its previous 13. He has gone 11-2-1 since beginning the season with two losses and has a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Despite goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who has not played this season because of a blood clot, continuing to progress while participating in practices, Bylsma said the Penguins do not have a three-goalie system. He said Vokoun playing prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a "mere possibility."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 7:13 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kunitz, Neal return to Penguins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have two key forwards back in the lineup against the Dallas Stars at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

Forwards Chris Kunitz (lower body) and James Neal (concussion), who missed Pittsburgh's past two games, returned to their normal positions during the Penguins' morning skate Tuesday and will return. Kunitz skated at left wing alongside forwards Sidney Crosby and Lee Stempniak while Neal returned to second-line right wing next to forwards Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen.

Neal and Kunitz also resumed their usual roles on the top power-play unit with Crosby, Malkin and defenseman Matt Niskanen. Kunitz rotated with Jokinen in front of the net on the power play.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.16.2014 / 12:18 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins without Kunitz again vs. Flyers

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury Sunday afternoon when the Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN2) in the back end of a home-and-home series.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Kunitz, who normally plays left wing on the top line, is "feeling well, but not well enough to be in today's lineup" at Consol Energy Center. Kunitz seemed to injure his leg during a game against the Washington Capitals on March 11 after colliding with a goal post in the third period.

Kunitz struggled to skate to the bench, but finished the game on the top line after taking one shift on the fourth line.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 1:35 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Capitals without Laich for rematch against Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals did not participate in full practices Tuesday after playing the front end of their home-and-home at Verizon Center on Monday.

Washington, which did not run line drills during its optional morning skate Tuesday, will start goalie Jaroslav Halak for the second consecutive game (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Halak allowed three goals on 33 shots Monday.

The Capitals won't have forward Brooks Laich in the lineup. Laich has been bothered by a groin injury and didn't make the trip. They recalled forward Casey Wellman and defenseman Patrick Wey from the American Hockey League on Tuesday. Wellman, who has two goals and three points in 10 NHL games this season, will play Tuesday. Wey's status for the game is unknown.

Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov most likely will play after making his NHL debut Monday. Kuznetsov had two shots on goal in 10:22 of ice time and Capitals coach Adam Oates said he will try to ease him in after the game.

"I think we have to be patient and realistic about expectations because it's a foreign league for him," Oates said. "It's a foreign system. He's never played this way."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 1:35 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Vitale, Pyatt set to rejoin Penguins lineup

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will welcome a few players back to their lineup while adjusting to the loss of defenseman Paul Martin when they face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

Forwards Joe Vitale (upper body) and Taylor Pyatt (lower body) will return after missing 12 and two games respectively. Their presence will strengthen Pittsburgh's bottom-six, which had featured defenseman Deryk Engelland at right wing on the fourth line in recent games.

Forward Pascal Dupuis spoke for the first time since tearing his ACL on Dec. 23. Brian Gibbons will continue to fill Dupuis' role as the top-line right wing for the time being. Dupuis is expected to fully recover in 6-8 months, but said he is attempting to recover in closer to six.

"I'm feeling good, surgery went well," Dupuis said. "I know my season is over this year. It definitely looks and sounds long, but I guess you can't rush anything."

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Posted On Friday, 02.07.2014 / 1:00 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins look to enter Olympic break on high note

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division, will play for the final time in the regular season Friday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh used the same forward lines and defense pairings during its morning skate Friday as it used during its game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. Forward Harry Zolnierczyk is expected to remain on the left wing on the Penguins' fourth line in his second game since being recalled from the American Hockey League.

Zolnierczyk has two goals in 10 games with the Penguins. He said his experience with Pittsburgh this season has made it easy to transition from his role with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL.

"I remember my first call-up to [the Philadelphia Flyers]," Zolnierczyk said. "It was pretty nerve-wracking to get your first NHL game. You play half a season there and now to have a good chunk of games here, it makes it that much easier and that much more comfortable to get in the lineup and be comfortable with the guys and to have chemistry with whoever you're playing with."

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Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Illness continues to sideline Penguins' Letang

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will not play against the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

After missing two games with an undisclosed illness, Letang continues to not feel well and will undergo further evaluations. It is uncertain if Letang's ailment could be long-term, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

The 2013 Norris Trophy finalist has missed 21 games entering Monday due to various injuries.

Pittsburgh is 16-5-0 without Letang this season, but defenseman Matt Niskanen said the Penguins will need to increase their quality of play if they are to compete with Ottawa after losing 3-1 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

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Posted On Monday, 01.27.2014 / 1:16 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Gibbons expected to skate on Penguins' top line

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby most likely will have a new right wing when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Buffalo Sabres on Monday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).

After missing five games with a lower-body injury, forward Brian Gibbons was activated off injured reserve Saturday and skated alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz during Pittsburgh's Monday morning skate. Gibbons has two goals, four assists in 13 games with the Penguins.

Before his injury Gibbons was one of several players to see time at right wing on Pittsburgh's top line after Pascal Dupuis sustained a season-ending ACL injury.

"We were playing pretty well together when we left off there a couple of weeks ago," Gibbons said. "Hopefully we pick up where we left off."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 1:04 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens reunite Markov, Subban; Murray in lineup

PITTSBURGH -- The Montreal Canadiens will make several lineup changes entering their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

Defensemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov will reunite to form a pairing Montreal utilized during a 10-game unbeaten streak from Nov. 19 to Dec. 7. Former Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray will skate after being scratched on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It's a little special when [you compete] against your buddies and there are bragging rights on the line," said Murray, who will be paired with Francis Bouillon. "I don't think you have to warn anybody in this locker room about [Pittsburgh]. They've been a top team for a long time and they're up in the standings again."

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Posted On Monday, 01.20.2014 / 1:29 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Martin, Neal could return for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will likely be the healthiest they've been in nearly two months when they face the Florida Panthers on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said three injured Penguins will return against Florida but did not specify which three. He said the returning players will give the Penguins eight healthy defensemen, indicating Paul Martin, who has missed 23 games with a broken tibia, will return.

Although Martin was paired with Brooks Orpik at the morning skate, Bylsma said Martin will be eased into the lineup.

"He's been out for a long time, an extended period of time. He wasn't able to walk for a good portion of that time period," Bylsma said. "When he gets back in the lineup, it's going to be a progression of what he brings.

"He's not going to jump back in and play a shutdown role."

James Neal, Chuck Kobasew and Jayson Megna also participated in line drills during the morning skate. Neal, who missed the game against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday with an upper-body injury, skated alongside linemates Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen.

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Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery