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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 1:59 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins pave way for returns with demotions to AHL

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins reassigned three players to the American Hockey League Tuesday to seemingly make room for players returning from injury.

Defenseman Simon Despres and forwards Chuck Kobasew and Harry Zolnierczyk were reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League prior to Game 1 of Pittsburgh’s first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, FS-O, ROOT).

The departures would allow for the return of forwards Evgeni Malkin and Joe Vitale.

“Obviously, it’s been a long year with a lot of different guys,” Vitale said. “But it’s a good feeling, obviously to see [Malkin] out there and [defenseman Paul Martin] and just see those faces and Kris [Letang]. Just to see those faces and the energy they bring, the energy on the ice is kind of contagious throughout the whole locker room, so it’s something special and we’re obviously thankful to have those guys back.”

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Posted On Monday, 04.14.2014 / 3:13 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Murray skips Blue Jackets practice, will play Game 1

Columbus Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Ryan Murray was held out of practice Monday for a maintenance day but coach Todd Richards said Murray, recovered from a knee injury, will play in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Initially expected to miss the remainder of the regular season after having arthroscopic knee surgery in March, Murray returned April 4 and played in five games. He sat out the season finale Saturday against the Florida Panthers as a precaution. The No. 2 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft was hurt during Columbus' 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3 and had surgery four days later.

Murray, 20, had four goals, 17 assists and a plus-4 rating in 66 regular-season games. He has one goal and a plus-2 rating in five games since returning.

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