ISLANDERS (4-0-0) at PENGUINS (2-1-0)
TV: MSG PLUS, ROOT
PITTSBURGH -- Forward Pascal Dupuis participated in the Pittsburgh Penguins first morning skate since being taken off the ice on a stretcher Thursday.
Dupuis could play against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center on Saturday. He resumed his normal position alongside forwards Brandon Sutter and Evgeni Malkin on the Penguins second line Saturday morning.
Dupuis said the decision on his playing status will be made Saturday afternoon. Penguins coach Mike Johnston called Dupuis a game-time decision.
"I saw him on the ice and I thought he looked pretty good," Johnston said.
Defenseman Kris Letang's shot hit Dupuis in the back of the neck after he was crosschecked to the ice by Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski in the second period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss against the Stars. Dupuis skated on his own Friday and was one of the first players on the ice Saturday for the Penguins (2-1-0).
Dupuis said he returned to Consol Energy Center on Thursday to gather his belongings, which had been left behind when he was taken to the hospital in his equipment. But he also said he wanted to return to speak with his teammates and "mainly to talk to [Letang]."
"Feeling started to come back and it was just a weird feeling," Dupuis said. "It obviously never happened to me. I never got numb like this and it's kind of scary."
He has four points and one goal in three games playing with Sutter and Malkin. All four came in Pittsburgh's 6-4 season-opening win against the Anaheim Ducks Oct. 9, which was his first game since tearing his ACL on Dec. 23.
Dupuis is one of Pittsburgh's premier penalty-killing forwards and his potential presence could be needed Saturday for the NHL's least-effective penalty kill (60 percent) through three games.
The Islanders enter Saturday with the League's second-best power play with a 42.9 percent success rate, which is only bested by Pittsburgh's rate of 46.2 percent. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said the undefeated Islanders (4-0-0) are looking forward to facing what he views as one of the NHL's best teams.
"If you want to be the best, you got to beat the best," Capuano said. "And right now, they're an elite team in this League, there's no question about it. So, it's a good measuring stick for our hockey club."
Forward Mikhail Grabovski (undisclosed) will be reevaluated Sunday, Capuano said. Grabovski sustained an injury in the first period of New York's 4-3 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"That's obviously a big blow to our team right now," Capuano said. "It just gets the guys an opportunity to move up and get in the game and see what they can do."
Here are the projected lineups:
Cory Conacher – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
Nikolay Kulemin – Frans Nielsen – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Nick Leddy – Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey – Travis Hamonic
Brian Strait – Calvin de Haan
Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Griffin Reinhart
Injured: Matt Carkner (back), Michael Grabner (lower body), Lubomir Visnovsky (back), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body)
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Evgeni Malkin – Brandon Sutter – Pascal Dupuis
Blake Comeau – Nick Spaling – Steve Downie
Craig Adams – Marcel Goc – Zach Sill
Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff – Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres
Scratched: Andrew Ebbett, Scott Harrington
Injured: Beau Bennett (lower body), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body)
Status report: The Penguins flipped their bottom two centers during their Saturday morning skate. Spaling was moved to the third line between Comeau and Downie, and Goc centered the fourth with Adams and Sill. … De Haan will play his second game of the season after missing New York's first three games because of an upper-body injury. He will most likely be paired with Strait.
Who's hot: Tavares leads the NHL with nine points through four games. Tavares continued pushed his streak of multipoint games to begin the season to four with two assists in New York's game against the Sharks on Thursday. … Kunitz, who has two goals and four points, has scored at least one point in three consecutive games to start a season for the first time in his career. Crosby is tied for second in scoring with seven points.