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Penguins' Dupuis skates, could play Saturday

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis skated on his own Friday, several hours after being removed from the ice on a stretcher during the Penguins game Thursday against the Dallas Stars.

Dupuis spent about 20 minutes on the ice Friday, shooting pucks while wearing a helmet. He was injured with 6:58 remaining in the second period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss Thursday. He was knocked down in front of the Dallas net by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, and while on the ice he was hit in the head by a Kris Letang shot.

He was treated by doctors on the ice and then placed on a stretcher. As he was leaving the ice he gave a thumbs-up to the crowd.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Dupuis had sustained some numbness in his arm but that the feeling returned after the game. He said Friday that Dupuis had been cleared to play by the medical staff and they were performing precautionary tests on the ice.

"He looked fine this morning," Johnston said. "He did skate on a little bit on his own … [The medical staff] wanted to see him out there on the ice, get his heart rate up a little bit as well. So he got the shot on the back of the neck, and I think when Letang was shooting there that he took a little bit off of the shot because he saw Pascal go down.

"But all signs are real positive this morning."

Blake Comeau skated in Dupuis' spot on the second line, alongside center Brandon Sutter and right wing Evgeni Malkin at practice Friday. Comeau had filled in for Dupuis in that spot after Dupuis was injured Thursday.

Johnston said it most likely would be determined Saturday morning if Dupuis can play against the New York Islanders that night. If Dupuis can't play, Johnston said forward Andrew Ebbett will be inserted into the lineup.

Letang said Friday that Dupuis' injury affected his focus Thursday.

"I'm not going to lie, between the second and third [periods] I was thinking about a lot of things," Letang said. "But I'm just happy I got to see him before I left the building [Thursday] and it's a little bit of a relief."

"Scary" was a common word used in the locker rooms for both teams Thursday when describing Dupuis' injury. It was used several more times Friday by Letang, Sutter and Penguins captain Sidney Cosby.

"It's scary when you see that; you don't know what's happening," Crosby said. "But he came back after the game [Thursday], saw him then. So I knew that he was good."

Dupuis is three games into his return from season-ending surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained Dec. 23, 2013, against the Ottawa Senators. In his first game back from the injury Dupuis had the second four-point game of his career in Pittsburgh's 6-4 season-opening win against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 9.

Sutter, who has two goals in three games playing between Dupuis and Malkin, said he had a feeling the injury would not be as serious as it had seemed originally.

"It was a little scary when it happened, but like I said [Thursday] after the game, I thought when he was laying there he was talking and moving pretty good," Sutter said. "So I wasn't too worried about it once I had seen him. Fortunately it's just a little bit of a stinger."

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