OTTAWA - Marian Hossa's debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins wasn't entirely forgettable.
Although the newly acquired sniper left his debut Thursday night early after spraining a right knee ligament against the Boston Bruins, he saw enough to know he's going to enjoy his time in Pittsburgh.
"It sounds like fun, playing with (Sidney) Crosby or (Evgeni) Malkin or (Jordan) Staal. I just felt good last night in the one period and to tell you the truth, I'm really looking forward to playing with those guys," said Hossa, who was picked up by the Penguins on Tuesday from the Atlanta Thrashers in one of the biggest trades of this year's deadline day.
Unfortunately for all parties involved, they'll have to wait at least about a week, maybe more, to see what the 29-year-old right-winger can do in one of the NHL's most exciting lineups.
The Slovak star had just more than a period with the Penguins under his belt, taking 14 shifts for 10 minutes 13 seconds of ice time, before he and Boston's Glen Murray accidentally collided knee on knee in the Bruins' eventual 5-1 victory.
"I join a new team right away and got an injury, so that's tough," said Hossa, who was playing on a line with centre Jordan Staal and left-winger Ryan Malone.
But it's not all bad news. Hossa considered himself fortunate to have avoided anything more disastrous than the mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament he did suffer.
With the Penguins in Ottawa to face the Senators on Saturday, Hossa, wearing a brace, was able to work out off the ice to rehab his knee while his teammates ran through a practice at Scotiabank Place on Friday afternoon.
"It's bad news, but it's also good news because I didn't know what to expect and it's a first-degree MCL and it should be better within hopefully a week," he said.
Losing one of their stars to injury is nothing new for the Penguins this year. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury just returned from a lengthy spell on injured reserve because of a high ankle sprain and superstar Sidney Crosby is six weeks into an expected six-to eight-week absence with the same injury. Forwards Gary Roberts, Kris Beech and Adam Hall and defenceman Mark Eaton are also on the IR list.
On Friday, the Penguins recalled forward Connor James and blue-liner Alex Goligoski from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.
"We were all excited about having Hossa in our lineup and he lasted half a game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It never ends. We're facing adversity in a lot of injuries, there's no doubt, but we've done a really good job to maintain our position in the standings all year long."
Hossa was one of the most sought-after players at the trade deadline and both the Senators and Montreal Canadiens were in hot pursuit, but the Penguins came in with a late deal, swapping a first-round pick, prospect Angelo Esposito and forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen for Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.
"I didn't know what to expect (at the deadline). In the end, Pittsburgh came out and I said that's great. They have great young players and I'm looking forward to it." His new teammates expressed a similar sentiment.
Although Hossa is due to be an unrestricted free agent as of July 1 and it's not certain whether or not he'll stay with the Penguins, he'll likely play a major factor in any success they have before the end of the season.
"He's a big boost for our club. We know he's a great player and what he can do," Staal said. "It's obviously tough that he got injured in his first game, but I think he's going to be ready to go when he comes back."