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Fleury back at practice for Penguins

Defenseman Maatta also skates; Malkin, Rust, Bennett, Murray each day-to-day

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury practiced Monday for the first time since sustaining his second concussion of the season.

Two days after rookie goalie Matthew Murray sustained an upper-body injury late in the first period of Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Fleury joined the Penguins for their first practice before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Rangers on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; USA, TVA Sports, SN, ROOT, MSG). 

With its top two goalies injured, Pittsburgh recalled goalie Tristan Jarry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Sunday, but Fleury could play for the first time since March 31.

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Following practice Monday, Fleury said he felt good but could not divulge his availability for Wednesday.

"I skated by myself the past few days, so it was good to get out there with the guys," Fleury said. "It's never easy to watch them … Just [taking it] one day at a time. It was my first practice."

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Fleury won eight of his final nine starts, including his past three, before being concussed during the Penguins' 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators. He had allowed fewer than three goals in six of his past seven starts.

Three months earlier, Fleury sustained his first concussion against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 14, causing him to miss eight games before returning against the New York Islanders on Jan. 2.

"I thought he had a really good practice today," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He was sharp. Tracking pucks well. I thought he had a real solid practice."

Murray, who did not practice Monday, replaced Fleury following his second concussion and bolstered his NHL record to 9-2-1 by winning four consecutive starts before leaving after stopping each of the 11 shots he faced against Philadelphia with Pittsburgh leading 1-0 in its final game of the regular season.

Sullivan said Murray is day-to-day. He said forwards Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Bryan Rust (lower body) and Beau Bennett (undisclosed) are also day-to-day.

Defenseman Olli Maatta also practiced Monday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury against the New Jersey Devils on March 24. In his absence, Trevor Daley has elevated to the top defensive pairing alongside Kris Letang.

Maatta, whose production slowed throughout the two months before to his injury, was initially listed as week-to-week. Like Fleury, he said he was pleased with how he felt during the practice, but would not say if he plans to play Wednesday.

"It was my first practice with the team," Maatta said. "I had no problems. We'll see how it goes. I really can't say for sure, but as I said, I felt good today. No setbacks."

Several Penguins admitted they enjoyed seeing Fleury and Maatta on the ice, but stopped short of providing any information on either player's status.

If Fleury is unable to play in Game 1, Pittsburgh will turn to goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who saw his first action since Feb. 20 when he replaced Murray against Philadelphia on Saturday. Zatkoff has lost in nine of his past 11 appearances since winning his first three starts of the season.

"It doesn't change how I prepare at all," Zatkoff said. "I try to approach it the same day every day. Just worry about myself, work hard and get ready to play in case my number is called … I think, right now, there's a lot of stuff you can't control." 

The Penguins play the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 1 is Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports, MSG, ROOT).

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