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Penguins' Kunitz hoping to return vs. Sens

Pittsburgh forward game-time decision with undisclosed injury

by Wes Crosby @OtherNHLCrosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Chris Kunitz could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins to face the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV).

After missing the Penguins' final two games before the All-Star break, Kunitz participated in practice Monday before he was listed as a game-time decision by coach Mike Sullivan. Kunitz skated again Tuesday to the left of center Sidney Crosby and right wing Patric Hornqvist on Pittsburgh's top line.

"I feel good," Kunitz said. "I still have to talk to the doctors to get cleared and things, but hopefully there are no setbacks and I'm able to go tonight … [The Senators] have some skilled forwards. They move the puck quick and get up. It's one of those teams we've really competed hard against the past few years."

An undisclosed injury kept Kunitz out of Pittsburgh's 5-4 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 23 after Sullivan said he would play hours prior.

Kunitz, who crashed into the boards back-first against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 21, was again listed as a game-time decision against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26, but was replaced by forward Matt Cullen as first-line left wing alongside Crosby and Hornqvist.

Cullen returned to the fourth line Tuesday, centering left wing Kevin Porter and a rotation of Sergei Plotnikov and Scott Wilson at right wing. Forward Conor Sheary will likely be a healthy scratch against the Senators.

Before sustaining his injury, Kunitz was enjoying one of his most productive stretches of the season. With Crosby heating up, he scored five points in as many games, culminating with two assists against Philadelphia.

Kunitz has eight goals and 18 points in 46 games this season. He skated on the Penguins' second power-play unit Tuesday.

Senators defenseman Marc Methot will also be a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury, coach Dave Camerson said. Methot, who has two goals and six points this season, last played Jan. 16 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Methot skated Tuesday alongside defenseman Chris Wideman.

Goalie Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa and likely face Marc-Andre Fleury, who was first off the ice for Pittsburgh. Anderson said he thought the All-Star break came at a fortunate time and feels revitalized after a week off.

"I think it was a time to get some rest and recharge the batteries," Anderson said. "A few days off the ice is sometimes a good thing. I think, by getting away from the game, it makes you realize you miss the game and you want to be here. It gives you a little bit of an energy boost to come back and gives you that little fire under you to get going."

Here are the projected lineups:

SENATORS

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone

Dave Dziurzynski - Curtis Lazar - Alex Chiasson

Shane Prince - Max McCormick - Chris Neil

Patrick Wiercioch - Erik Karlsson

Marc Methot - Chris Wideman

Mark Borowiecki - Cody Ceci

Craig Anderson

Andrew Hammond

Injured: Kyle Turris (ankle), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Milan Michalek (finger), Chris Phillips (back)

Scratched: Fredrik Claesson, Jared Cowen

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Eric Fehr - Bryan Rust

Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Scott Wilson

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin

Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion)

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole, Conor Sheary

Status report: Pittsburgh recalled Wilson and Sheary from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Monday … Ottawa recalled Dziurzynski and McCormick from Binghamton on Monday.

Who's hot: Crosby has scored one goal in each of his past three games and at least one in each of his past seven home games. He has 22 points in his past 17 games … Karlsson, who leads Ottawa with 52 points, has scored at least one point in five of his past six games.

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