Skip to main content

Penguins' Maatta could return for Game 6

Pittsburgh defenseman has been out since sustaining upper-body injury in Game 2 against Washington

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta could return to the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals for Game 6, which is when Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik is eligible to return from the suspension he received for a hit on Maatta.

Maatta, who has been out since taking a hit from Orpik in Game 2, practiced at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Monday wearing a regular jersey, meaning he was cleared for contact. He said he feels good and hasn't had any setbacks. The next step is to get cleared by doctors in order to play in Game 6 against the Capitals at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Maatta shaken up after hit

Orpik, suspended three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety, is expected to play in Game 6.

"Olli had a good practice [Monday]," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's feeling 100 percent. We'll see how he responds to practice. And he'll be a game-time decision."

Maatta was paired with Trevor Daley Monday on what would be considered the Penguins' second defense pair behind Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin and ahead of Ian Cole and Ben Lovejoy.

Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot were the fourth pair. Pouliot played Games 3 and 4 in Maatta's place. Schultz was in the lineup for Games 4 and 5, though technically he replaced Letang in Game 4, when Letang was suspended, and remained in the lineup for Game 5, with Pouliot coming out.

"It's good to have him back on our side," Letang said of Maatta. "He's really good with the puck, really good at transitioning. He's a really smart player on the rush against really good players. He's got a good stick. He's a good two-way defenseman that can play big minutes for us."

Maatta was averaging 18:42 of ice time per game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before getting injured at 4:13 of the first period of Game 2. His giveaway in Game 1 led to the first of T.J. Oshie's three goals in Washington's 4-3 win.

"We just want Olli to play within himself and be himself," Sullivan said. "He's been a very good player for us all year. He's been part of our top-four defense corps all year. He's a very smart player. He's positionally sound. As long as he plays within himself and takes what the game gives him and embraces the moment, he's going to be a good player for us."

Video: Mike Sullivan on Penguins series against the Capitals

Maatta said he's not concerned about the hit from Orpik anymore.

"It's done and over with," he said. "It happened. You can't do anything about it now. We just have to focus on our game [Tuesday]."

Orpik, who played with Maatta in Pittsburgh during the 2013-14 season and considers him a friend, also seems ready to move on.

"I don't think it makes you feel any better about what happened," Orpik said. "But it's good to see him back on the ice."

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.