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Penguins Niskanen Could Return Sunday

Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 2:19 PM

By Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent / Penguins vs. Flyers series blog

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Penguins vs. Flyers series blog
Penguins Niskanen Could Return Sunday
PITTSBURGH--Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen, out for four games with an upper-body injury, could return for Game 3 against Philadelphia on Sunday.
 
Niskanen, who had been skating on his own, returned to practice Saturday at the team's suburban ice rink.
 
"Everybody plays through pain," he said. "That's not going to be an issue. It's going to be a functional thing, if I can play the way I need to play without anything holding me back."
 
Niskanen hasn't played since apparently injuring a shoulder on a hit by Daniel Paille of Boston on April 3. He sat out the Flyers' 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 and 8-5 decision in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
 
"It's just killing me being in the press box. It really hurts to watch," Niskanen said. "But I've got to get back when I can, and I have confidence in the guys that we're going to turn it around."
 
Niskanen is coming off a strong season in which he was a plus-9 in 75 games, with four goals and 17 assists.
 
Coach Dan Bylsma said the defensive pairings will be a game-time decision. Niskanen's status will be determined by whether he has enough strength in the affected area to play effectively.
 
If Niskanen returns, Ben Lovejoy probably would be scratched. Lovejoy returned for the series only two weeks after having arthroscopic knee surgery.
 
Lovejoy made an ill-advised pass early in the third period of Game 3, mere seconds after Tyler Kennedy's go-ahead goal, that resulted in a steal and a pivotal goal by Flyers rookie Sean Couturier.
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