TAMPA -- The status of injured Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley is unknown for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Consol Energy Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Daley sustained an apparent left leg injury in the second period of a 4-3 loss in Game 4 on Friday that tied the best-of-7 series 2-2.
"He's going to be evaluated when we get back to Pittsburgh today," coach Mike Sullivan said Saturday before the Penguins departed Tampa.
Daley left Amalie Arena on crutches Friday after not putting any weight on his left leg while being helped off the ice following a second period collision with Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan. Sullivan conceded that Daley's need of crutches was "not encouraging."
Defenseman Olli Maatta is the likely candidate to fill the lineup spot if Daley is unable to play. Maatta has been a healthy scratch the past three games after struggling in a 3-1 loss in Game 1, but Sullivan said he believes the time off helped the 21-year-old reset his game.
"Olli's a real good player," Sullivan said. "He's played in key situations for us all year. He's been a top four defenseman for us for most of the year. We believe in him. We have a lot of confidence in him and we knew when you go this deep in the playoffs you need your whole team in the true sense of the word to have success. So, we're fortunate to have the depth that we have at that position and if we have to put somebody into the lineup someone like Olli can help us win and we know that."
The loss of Daley would be significant for the Penguins. Since being acquired in a Dec. 14 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, Daley, 32, has solidified the top four on defense. He has one goal and five assists in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games and has averaged 22:08 of ice time, second on the Penguins behind defenseman Kris Letang (29:14).
"[Daley's] an important part of our defense corps," defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. "He's been playing real well for us ever since he got here. He's a leader in the locker room, he's a leader out there on the ice, so definitely he's an important person that we want on the ice, but that's part of the game. Injuries are going to happen, so we've got to find a way to battle through it and turn it into a positive."