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At the Rink: Penguins at Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will get center Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang back from injury Saturday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; ROOT, FS-N, FS-WI).

Crosby, who missed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday with a lower-body injury said he felt good following the Penguins morning skate.

"To get basically a week here is good and I'm happy with the way I felt," Crosby said.

Crosby said he skated once during the Christmas break in a men's league at home in Nova Scotia, but wasn't sure until Saturday that he could get back in the lineup.

"Not until you get out there and see how it feels," Crosby said. "It's just a matter of trusting you can go out there and take hits. It's a little different than a morning skate but at the same time, you have to be confident about it. It felt pretty good today and that's a good thing."

For Letang, who is fighting a cold, the game against the Wild will mark his first in the lineup under coach Mike Sullivan, who replaced former coach Mike Johnston on Dec. 12.

Letang sustained an upper-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 9 and missed the past six games.

"He's sat in on all the meetings we've had, and even though he hasn't been in the lineup, he's been in every video meeting that we've had, he's listened to the conversations in the locker room, I've had conversations with him about some of the subtle changes and tweaks that we've made," Sullivan said. "My hope is that he has an immediate impact. He's a talented hockey player and he's a guy that can really skate, should be able to help us get out of our end zone, should be able to help as far as joining the rush and making us more dangerous off the rush because of his ability level.

"There's so many areas where he has the ability to help our team win. I'm excited to have him back in our lineup."

Minnesota is 1-6-1 in its past eight games immediately following the Christmas break, including losses in each of the past four. The Wild's last win in the first game back was on Dec. 26, 2009 against the St. Louis Blues, two years prior to Mike Yeo's tenure as coach.

"These are always interesting games," Yeo said. "Obviously with the skill level on the other side, we have to get our heads into it and make sure that we have the right approach coming in to the game.

"Execution won't be there, especially to start the game. I would expect that from both teams. But we have to try and pull that in, and you do that with your work ethic."

Wild forward Ryan Carter will not play because of an upper-body injury. Yeo said he is considered day-to-day.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron

Conor Sheary - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy

Trevor Daley - Ian Cole

Matthew Murray

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Beau Bennett (upper body)

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, David Warsofsky, Adam Clendening


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Jarret Stoll - Erik Haula

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Ryan Carter (upper body)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom

Status report: Wilson was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. … Porter, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in a 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, will re-enter the lineup.

Who's hot: Malkin has at least one goal in each of his past two games and has five goals in his past six games. He had two goals and two assists in a 4-3 win against the Wild on Nov. 18. … Pominville scored a goal against the Canadiens on Tuesday and has seven points in his past nine games.

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