PHILADELPHIA - Penguins centre Jordan Staal will fly home to Thunder Bay, Ont., on Wednesday morning to attend his grandfather's funeral. The Pittsburgh player is expected to return to Philadelphia the same night.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Flyers goes Thursday night in Philadelphia.
"Well I just talked to my parents and I obviously want to be there," Staal said after Tuesday's pre-game skate at Wachovia Center. "It's definitely a difficult situation for myself especially the way things are going right now for me. But I think there's bigger things than hockey sometimes and I'm just glad I can make it home."
Entering Game 3 on Tuesday night, Staal had three goals and one assist in 11 playoff games. He played in all 82 regular season games, recording 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.
Staal's brother, Eric, has left the Canadian team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship and will rejoin the team in Quebec City for the semifinals if it advances. Defenceman Marc Staal of the New York Rangers was knocked out by Jordan's Penguins in the second round while the season of younger brother Jared Staal is also over with the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves.
Grandfather Staal watched all four boys play.
"He watched every single game last year I think for all three of us or all four of us," Jordan said. "He's been a hockey fan and we've all been really close. It's definitely a tough loss."