Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said three injured Penguins will return against Florida but did not specify which three. He said the returning players will give the Penguins eight healthy defensemen, indicating Paul Martin, who has missed 23 games with a broken tibia, will return.
Although Martin was paired with Brooks Orpik at the morning skate, Bylsma said Martin will be eased into the lineup.
"He's been out for a long time, an extended period of time. He wasn't able to walk for a good portion of that time period," Bylsma said. "When he gets back in the lineup, it's going to be a progression of what he brings.
"He's not going to jump back in and play a shutdown role."
James Neal, Chuck Kobasew and Jayson Megna also participated in line drills during the morning skate. Neal, who missed the game against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday with an upper-body injury, skated alongside linemates Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen.
"I feel good," Neal said. "I'm ready to go tonight. We've kind of been in and out, and lines have been mixed and matched quite a bit. We've done a good job of trying to come back and get right back into the swing of things."
Kobasew and Megna missed six and 13 games respectively, each with a lower-body injury.
Florida forward Tomas Kopecky did not participate in the Panthers' morning skate. Panthers coach Peter Horachek said he expects Kopecky to return by Friday, but he could return Tuesday. Forward Jesse Winchester will return to the lineup in Kopecky's absence after missing 14 games with a broken hand.
"I think it's time. I think [Winchester] going back in the lineup will be good for us," Horachek said. "I think he's a pro. He works hard and he does the right things. So, we're anxious to get him back in there."
Here are the projected lineups for the Penguins and Panthers:
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