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
took part in the morning skate despite being struck in the jaw by a Zdeno Chara
"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.