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Penguins vs. Islanders

Neal, Orpik could return for Penguins in Game 4

Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 12:52 PM

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / Penguins-Islanders series blog

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Neal, Orpik could return for Penguins in Game 4

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't divulge any information in regard to his lineup for Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders, but there is a good chance forward James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik will return Tuesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Neal and Orpik were full participants at the morning skate, and Neal put in work on the club's top power-play unit. Nine of his 21 goals during the regular season came via the man-advantage.

"It's tough sitting out," said Neal, who suffered a lower-body injury during Pittsburgh's 5-0 victory in Game 1. "It's good to be back on the ice and skating with the guys."

Should Neal make his return, he will rejoin what already is a lethal power play. The Penguins went 3-for-5 with the man advantage in their 5-4 overtime victory in Game 3, including Chris Kunitz's game-winner at 8:44 of the extra session that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 series. The Islanders talked Thursday morning about how slowing the Penguins' power play is a major part of their game plan for Game 4.

"I think Nealer has that ability to get into open areas and he has that great shot," Kunitz said. "His work ethic, ability to hunt down pucks and create turnovers and get pucks out of piles and get it to guys on the ice, it's kind of a grit level that every power play needs."

Should Orpik return Tuesday, he would be making his debut in this postseason. The 32-year-old, who had eight assists and a plus-17 rating in 46 regular-season games, suffered an undisclosed injury during a game against the Buffalo Sabres on April 23.

Orpik joined Paul Martin, his usual defense partner, during rushes at the morning skate, which would suggest he's ready to go.

Here are the projected lineups for Game 4:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla

Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke

Tanner Glass - Jussi Jokinen - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik

Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen

Mark Eaton - Kris Letang

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tomas Vokoun

Scratched: Beau Bennett, Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy

Injured: Joe Vitale (lower body)


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Matt Moulson - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin

Mark Streit - Matt Carkner

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Brian Strait - Lubomir Visnovsky

Evgeni Nabokov

Kevin Poulin

Scratched: Calvin de Haan, Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Joe Finley, Thomas Hickey, Jesse Joensuu, Anders Lee, Radek Martinek, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Marty Reasoner, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom


Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres