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Posted On Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 1:04 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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Posted On Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 12:41 PM

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

Penguins' Sutter gets choice spot on Crosby line

PITTSBURGH -- Before the Washington Capitals face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS), Alex Ovechkin shared a unique take on his rivalry with Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 33 goals, named Crosby and Malkin as two of the League's best players while ranking himself among the top 15.

"It's a great battle," Ovechkin said. "It's a good challenge for me. They are, right now, playing very good and it's going to be a good battle for us."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.05.2014 / 1:00 PM

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

Letang, Malkin return for Penguins

PITTSBURGH – All-Stars Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at Consol Energy Center.

After missing the first nine games of the season with a lower-body injury, Letang was sidelined for an additional 10 games after sustaining an upper-body injury against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 13.

"I told him [coach Dan Bylsma] I felt good," Letang said after Pittsburgh's Saturday practice. "It's the coach's decision. Every time you practice, you become more confident out there and more comfortable.

Despite participating in Pittsburgh's Friday morning skate, Letang was ruled out for its game against the New York Rangers. He returned to his pairing with Rob Scuderi and his position on the top power-play unit during practice on Saturday at Consol Energy Center.

After being considered a game-time decision earlier in the day, star center Evgeni Malkin will also return to the lineup Sunday afternoon after missing nine games with an injury. Malkin has been out since hurting his left leg Dec. 14 against the Detroit Red Wings.

Malkin collected a goal and two assists against Detroit before falling awkwardly into the boards and appeared to favor his leg after the collision. Despite missing three weeks, Malkin still ranks fifth in the NHL with 32 assists and 16th with 41 points.
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Posted On Friday, 01.03.2014 / 12:55 PM

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

Rangers’ Callahan in; Pens’ Malkin, Letang remain out

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Callahan will return to the New York Rangers' lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday at Consol Energy Center after missing nine games with a knee injury.

Callahan was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after spraining his left knee against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 10, but he said he does not feel any lingering effects from the injury and is prepared to play Friday.

"I think it's hard to tell [how long it will take to recover] when it's that far out, but rehab went how it's supposed to. I don't think it's too far ahead of schedule," Callahan said. "It's hard to sit out and watch your team, and I say this every time, you're working to get back out there with the guys and it doesn't matter how many times or how many games you've played, when you've been hurt, you've been rehabbing and you get a chance to come back you're happy to get back out there."

With Callahan back in the lineup, the Rangers are fully healthy. The same cannot be said for Pittsburgh.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 12:16 PM

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

Depleted Penguins go for 10 straight at home

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins will attempt to win their 10th consecutive home game Saturday afternoon before emarking on an extended road trip when they face the Calgary Flames at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh, which is on a season-high nine-game home win streak, has won six straight overall and leads the NHL in wins (14) and points (29) since Nov. 18. Its record is 14-2-1 during that stretch.

"There's no secret. We're just trying to compete every night with guys out," Sidney Crosby said on Friday. "I think everyone is just trying to find a way to contribute and make sure we're picking up our game as best we can."

The Penguins played well despite facing a rash of injuries and suspensions that have sidelined five of their top seven defenseman and five forwards, including Evgeni Malkin. None of their injured players will return Saturday in their last home game until Jan. 3, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Bylsma said it is possible Malkin, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury, could return against the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 12:50 PM

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

Wild without Harding; Neal returns to Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Minnesota Wild play their first game since placing goalie Josh Harding on injured reserve, while Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal returns from his suspension Thursday.

Harding, who was placed on IR Wednesday in order to make an adjustment to his medication for multiple sclerosis, leads the NHL with a 1.51 goals-against average and is second with a .939 save percentage. He is tied for second with 18 wins, two behind Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Wild coach Mike Yeo said Minnesota was aware of Harding's condition for a "couple days."

"We've known that this was coming and we didn't feel any need to talk about it, we didn't want any distraction before our Vancouver game," Yeo said. "It's something that is a minor adjustment that we have to make. He feels great, he wants to make sure that everyone understands that.

"This is just a minor thing that he'll be ready to rejoin us right after Christmas."

The Wild recalled Johan Gustafsson and will start Niklas Backstrom against Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center. Backstrom is 2-5-2 with a 2.93 GAA and .900 save percentage in 12 starts.

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Posted On Monday, 12.16.2013 / 12:48 PM

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

Without Malkin, Letang, Penguins looking younger

PITTSBURGH -- The largest set of injuries the Pittsburgh Penguins have faced this season will lead to a nearly unrecognizable Pittsburgh lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Forward Evgeni Malkin, who sustained a lower-body injury against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, is day-to-day and will not play Monday, according to coach Dan Bylsma. He also said defenseman Kris Letang has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Sidney Crosby said his team will need to play at its best to compensate for the injuries.

"I think you want to make sure you're at your best," Crosby said. "I think that's always the case but I think it's pretty natural when guys are missing for everyone to want to pick it up a little bit more and find ways when guys are out."

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Posted On Friday, 12.13.2013 / 12:51 PM

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

Slumping Devils get importance of game vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The New Jersey Devils will attempt to rebound from surrendering a two-goal lead in their previous game when they face the Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

New Jersey lost 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday after holding a 3-1 lead in the second period. Columbus leapfrogged New Jersey, which is in seventh place in the division with 30 points.

After a 1-4-0 start to December, New Jersey looks at this game against the Penguins as a chance to right the ship.

"I don't think we played a poor, poor game [against Columbus]," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think there were some things we needed to clean up, but we're in a situation where we can't afford to let one loss turn into two.

"I think we'll be good tonight and it's going to be a tough test."

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Posted On Monday, 12.09.2013 / 1:54 PM

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

Penguins facing lineup adjustments against Jackets

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be forced to further adjust their lineup when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Brooks Orpik was placed on injured reserve Monday with a concussion sustained against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, while James Neal has been suspended for five games following a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Monday Orpik is "doing quite well."

Orpik was injured in the first period Saturday during an altercation with Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who faces an in-person disciplinary hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety. The date for the hearing has yet to be determined.

"We saw him leave the ice [on a stretcher] so it was pretty scary in that regard," Bylsma said. "He’s up and moving around just fine. I don't have [knowledge of] any type of other symptoms that he’s having at this time."

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