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At the Rink blog

Neal, Sullivan, Niskanen all sidelined for Penguins

Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:48 PM

By Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing somewhat shorthanded against the New York Rangers on Thursday night, as forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan and defenseman Matt Niskanen sit out with injuries.
 
All three might also miss the regular-season ending game Saturday against the Flyers, but coach Dan Bylsma said they are expected to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that begin next week.
 
Neal and Sullivan have lower-body injuries and Niskanen has an upper-body injury, all of which occurred during the Penguins' 5-3 victory at Boston on Tuesday night. Niskanen was injured during a collision with Daniel Paille in the first period and did not return. Sullivan played the entire game, but was seen limping afterward.
 
It is uncertain when Neal was hurt.
 
With Neal missing, Richard Park -- who has not dressed for 10 of the last 13 games -- was on a line with Chris Kunitz and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin during the morning skate. Eric Tangradi and Pascal Dupuis were the wings on the Sidney Crosby line.
 
Joe Vitale took part in the morning skate despite being struck in the jaw by a Zdeno Chara shot Tuesday.
 
"All of us and everyone in the building (TD Garden) saw the puck rise off his stick, it was only a wrist shot, but it was (Zdeno) Chara," Bylsma said. "He got it up and around the head area, so there was concern. It left a mark, but he's doing well and everything seems to be good with him."
 
Vitale is expected to center the fourth line, which also includes Arron Asham and Craig Adams.
 
The Penguins can secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, as early as Thursday if they defeat the Rangers or the Flyers lose to Buffalo in regulation.
 
 
 
 

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1