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Penguins' Crosby, Kunitz in after one-game absences

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will welcome back several players to their lineup when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

In addition to the return of defenseman Kris Letang, forwards Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz were back at their normal positions on Pittsburgh's top line during the morning skate Wednesday, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma confirmed defenseman Olli Maatta will be paired with defenseman Matt Niskanen against Detroit.

Crosby and Maatta missed the Penguins' game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday each with an upper-body injury, and Kunitz was sidelined with a lower-body injury.


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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock complimented Kunitz, who has scored a career-high 35 goals and 67 points this season, after Detroit's optional morning skate.

"I was in Anaheim when he came out of college and I thought, 'Oh my God' when I saw him. I thought, 'I don't know how he's going to play,'" Babcock said. "He's smart and very, very competitive. He knows how to play.

"He now plays with Crosby on a line and has won Stanley Cups and won a gold medal, so we weren't very smart."

Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk will play in his fourth straight game since missing 16 due to a knee injury. Bylsma said he expects the matchup to be a measuring stick for the teams with players returning on each side recently.

"They've been playing very well to put themselves in position to be in the playoffs," Bylsma said. "They've kind of been adding players back to their lineup as well. You can see in their lineup some of the young players they have. We're expecting this to be a potential first-round matchup and for it to be played as much."

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyBeau Bennett

Brian GibbonsJussi JokinenJames Neal

Tanner GlassBrandon SutterLee Stempniak

Taylor PyattCraig AdamsAdam Payerl

Kris LetangRob Scuderi

Brooks OrpikPaul Martin

Olli MaattaMatt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Simon Despres, Deryk Engelland, Robert Bortuzzo

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (foot), Marcel Goc (foot), Joe Vitale (upper body), Chris Conner (broken foot), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)


Justin AbdelkaderPavel DatsyukJohan Franzen

Gustav NyquistRiley SheahanTomas Tatar

Darren HelmDavid LegwandDaniel Alfredsson

Drew MillerLuke GlendeningTomas Jurco

Niklas KronwallBrendan Smith

Kyle QuinceyDanny DeKeyser

Jakub KindlBrian Lashoff

Jonas Gustavsson

Jimmy Howard

Scratched: Joakim Andersson, Todd Bertuzzi

Injured: Stephen Weiss (hernia), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Jonathan Ericsson (finger), Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder), Daniel Cleary (knee)

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