TAMPA, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan gave as positive of an update on injured forward Patric Hornqvist as he could without revealing major details on Thursday.
Hornqvist was injured blocking a shot with his left hand at 12:50 of the third period Wednesday. He immediately dropped his stick, left the ice and went to the dressing room. He never returned as the Penguins closed out a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final.
"We think he's making progress," Sullivan said of Hornqvist, who did not skate during the Penguins' optional practice Thursday. "We'll see how he is [Friday], but I don't envision it being an issue."
That was welcome news to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who plays on a line and on Pittsburgh's first power-play unit with Hornqvist and understands how valuable he is. The Penguins don't have anyone else who will go to the net as courageously and as often as Hornqvist.
Sullivan made it seem as though Hornqvist, who has six goals and nine points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will be ready to play in Game 4 on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"It's one thing late in games, everyone is kind of laying down blocking everything, but he does it every single shift at both ends of the ice," Crosby said. "The way he competes in front of the net and the beating he takes is pretty tough, and he just gets back up and does it the next shift. He brings a lot of great energy to our team."
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang noted how much of a weapon Hornqvist is in front of the net, particularly on the power play.
"He is the best player that we have to go in front of the net," Letang said. "Every shot that is going to come toward the net he's going to touch it or deflect it. When he's on the power play he's in front of the net and he drags people to him so it opens up the ice for other guys. He's going to give second and third efforts on every play. He's really important. He does a lot of details that people don't really see on TV but it helps us to win games."
Crosby said he was curious about Hornqvist after he saw him leave the ice in what appeared to be a great deal of pain.
"I saw him wincing and going off," he said. "At that point you don't know and you kind of wait for him to come back, and he didn't."