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Letang skates with Penguins; no return date yet

by Alain Poupart /

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Letang will miss his fourth consecutive game Friday night, but the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman took an important step toward his return at the team's morning skate.

Letang, who has yet to play this season because of a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at practice for the first time prior to the team's Friday matchup with the Florida Panthers.

After his teammates left the ice, Letang stayed on and did work that involved contact.

"Today's practice won't be an indication that he's ready to go or not ready to go, but he's progressing and contact on the ice is the next step for him," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was able to skate and he looks good in that regard, in terms of getting up and down the ice and skating ability. I watched him practice yesterday as well and he's looking good right now, but in particular with this being an injury that he hasn't been able to play or practice yet, [we're] probably taking a little more time precautionary-wise than if this was a midseason situation."

Bylsma said he wanted to see how practice went over the next two or three days to determine a course of action for Letang, who last season tied Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens for the NHL scoring lead among defensemen with 38 points.

That means Letang also will be out of the lineup Saturday night when the Penguins play the second half of a Florida back-to-back against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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