WILD (10-3-3) at PENGUINS (10-7-0)
TV: NBCSN, ROOT
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist could play against the Minnesota Wild at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.
Hornqvist did not practice on Monday after sustaining an undisclosed injury against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. No update to his status was provided on Monday, but Hornqvist was one of the first forwards on the ice for Pittsburgh’s Tuesday morning skate.
“I’m feeling good,” Hornqvist said. “Obviously, it’s up to the coach to see what kind of lineup they have going, but I feel comfortable out there.”
Penguins coach Mike Johnston said he thought Hornqvist performed well during the morning skate and seems healthy, but he will speak with the team trainers before deciding if Hornqvist will play.
The Penguins did not hold line rushes on Tuesday, so where Hornqvist will slot into the lineup if he does play is uncertain. He did skate on Pittsburgh’s top power-play unit with forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, as well as defenseman Kris Letang.
Crosby and Malkin were split between two power-play units against New Jersey.
“I think guys have to get to the net. We have to do a better job of that,” Crosby said. “Just kind of battle and compete, and whoever is shooting has to find a way to get it there.”
Hornqvist has played third-line right wing recently after playing within the Penguins’ top-six through the first month of the season and all of last season, his first in Pittsburgh. After scoring 25 goals while playing alongside Crosby for the majority of last season, Hornqvist has six points (four goals, two assists) through 17 games this season.
His lack of production, in addition to Pittsburgh’s offensive inefficiency as a whole, had him moved from second-line right wing alongside Malkin to first-line right wing next to Crosby, in an attempt to spark each.
After failing to ignite on the first line, Hornqvist was demoted to the third, to the right of center Nick Bonino, while forward Beau Bennett moved to the first. He said having two days to recuperate was beneficial.
“I couldn’t really go there on Saturday and I got two days of rest and I feel better,” Hornqvist said.
The Wild will be without fourth-line center Erik Haula because of an undisclosed illness. Forwards Michael Keranen and Brett Bulmer, who were recalled from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League over the past two days, will enter the lineup.
“[Haula] wasn’t going to be OK to play and we didn’t want to bring him [to Pittsburgh], because obviously, we’re shot as it is right now and we don’t want to have something that spreads to the rest of the group,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “He’s not good enough to play tonight and hopefully we can get him into Boston.”
Yeo said Keranen will play on the third line, to the left of center Charlie Coyle and right wing Jordan Schroeder. Bulmer will play on the fourth line with forwards Ryan Carter and Chris Porter.
Here are the projected lineups:
Thomas Vanek – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
Michael Keranen – Charlie Coyle – Jordan Schroeder
Chris Porter – Ryan Carter – Brett Bulmer
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella – Nate Prosser
Injured: Zach Parise (sprained right MCL), Justin Fontaine (sprained right MCL), Tyler Graovac (bilateral core muscle repair surgery), Erik Haula (illness)
Scratched: Christian Folin
Pascal Dupuis – Sidney Crosby – Beau Bennett
David Perron – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz – Nick Bonino – Patric Hornqvist
Daniel Sprong – Matt Cullen – Eric Fehr
Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin – Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole – Rob Scuderi
Injured: Bryan Rust (undisclosed)
Scratched: Adam Clendening, Sergei Plotnikov
Status report: Cullen, Bonino, Scuderi and Sprong were each present at Pittsburgh’s Tuesday morning skate. Each were absent during the Penguins’ Monday practice … With Keranen and Bulmer entering the Minnesota lineup, the Wild will not need to skate seven defensemen. Yeo said Folin would be scratched Tuesday.
Who’s hot: While the Penguins have struggled offensively, Fleury has excelled with a 2.01 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. He has won eight of his past 11 starts, while allowing 1.82 goals per game … Spurgeon is riding a five-game points streak, scoring six points and one goal over that stretch, and has scored at least one point in six of his past seven games.