Skip to main content

Neal, Orpik could return for Penguins in Game 4

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't divulge any information in regard to his lineup for Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders, but there is a good chance forward James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik will return Tuesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Neal and Orpik were full participants at the morning skate, and Neal put in work on the club's top power-play unit. Nine of his 21 goals during the regular season came via the man-advantage.

"It's tough sitting out," said Neal, who suffered a lower-body injury during Pittsburgh's 5-0 victory in Game 1. "It's good to be back on the ice and skating with the guys."

Should Neal make his return, he will rejoin what already is a lethal power play. The Penguins went 3-for-5 with the man advantage in their 5-4 overtime victory in Game 3, including Chris Kunitz's game-winner at 8:44 of the extra session that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 series. The Islanders talked Thursday morning about how slowing the Penguins' power play is a major part of their game plan for Game 4.

"I think Nealer has that ability to get into open areas and he has that great shot," Kunitz said. "His work ethic, ability to hunt down pucks and create turnovers and get pucks out of piles and get it to guys on the ice, it's kind of a grit level that every power play needs."

Should Orpik return Tuesday, he would be making his debut in this postseason. The 32-year-old, who had eight assists and a plus-17 rating in 46 regular-season games, suffered an undisclosed injury during a game against the Buffalo Sabres on April 23.

Orpik joined Paul Martin, his usual defense partner, during rushes at the morning skate, which would suggest he's ready to go.

Here are the projected lineups for Game 4:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla

Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke

Tanner Glass - Jussi Jokinen - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik

Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen

Mark Eaton - Kris Letang

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tomas Vokoun

Scratched: Beau Bennett, Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy

Injured: Joe Vitale (lower body)


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Matt Moulson - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin

Mark Streit - Matt Carkner

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Brian Strait - Lubomir Visnovsky

Evgeni Nabokov

Kevin Poulin

Scratched: Calvin de Haan, Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Joe Finley, Thomas Hickey, Jesse Joensuu, Anders Lee, Radek Martinek, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Marty Reasoner, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom


View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.