Letang placed on IR; more evaluation for Fleury

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 2:20 PM
Chris Adamski  - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- A day after returning following a nine-day absence because of a lower-body injury, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has been placed on injured reserve and will miss 7-10 days because of a separate lower-body injury.

The Penguins recalled defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Wednesday to take the roster spot of Letang, who is the NHL's scoring leader among defensemen.

Letang, who has 28 points in 28 games, was activated from injured reserve Tuesday after missing three games. He logged more than 24 minutes in Pittsburgh's 1-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens, its 13th in a row. But Letang told RDS after the game that he was not 100 percent after the first period.

On Wednesday, RDS reported Letang's new injury is a broken toe.

The status of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is less concrete. Fleury did not play during the third period Tuesday after taking the brunt of a collision with teammate Tyler Kennedy after Kennedy had been shoved by Montreal captain Brian Gionta.

"Marc-Andre Fleury is continuing to get evaluated today," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There's not any more information in that regard. He's not been ruled out to be the backup (Thursday) as of yet."

Bylsma said the plan all along in the team's rotation was for Tomas Vokoun to start Thursday when the Penguins host the Winnipeg Jets.

Despite Fleury being spotted, at one point, appearing to suffer from knee pain Tuesday, Bylsma maintained that Fleury's affliction is "just an upper-body injury."

"Part of that (medical evaluation of Fleury) is not going to happen until late in the afternoon," Bylsma said Wednesday. "Yes, it's still possible (Fleury is in uniform Thursday). He wasn't planned to play. … If we did need a backup, it is going to be Marc or someone else."

Evgeni Malkin again took part in what was an optional Penguins practice Wednesday, but there is no update in his status. The reigning League scoring champion and MVP, Malkin has missed the past nine games with a shoulder injury.

In one other roster move the Penguins made Wednesday, seldom-used defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a conditioning assignment. Bortuzzo, a rookie, has not played since Feb. 28 -- coincidentally, the most recent time the Penguins lost.

Bortuzzo does not need to clear waivers and will remain a member of the Penguins' 23-man roster during his conditioning assignment, which will last three games. NHL rosters expand after the trade deadline April 3.

With Douglas Murray joining the team Wednesday for his first practice since he was acquired via trade from the San Jose Sharks on Monday, Pittsburgh has seven healthy defensemen, even without Bortuzzo or Letang available.

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