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Pens injury report: One in, one out

by Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have been watching players go on the injury list all season. For a change, they’re getting one of their sidelined players back.
Forward Tyler Kennedy was full-go in Monday's morning skate and is expected to play Monday night against Phoenix, his first game action since he suffered a high ankle sprain exactly a month ago. He hasn’t played since Feb. 5 in New Jersey.
"The first couple shifts I'm going to try and get out and try to set a tone with my play," Kennedy said.
The layoff was the second extended one this season for Kennedy, a situation that hasn't helped his production. He was out for a month early in the season with a concussion.
"I haven't had this injury before -- it's my first one," Kennedy said of the ankle sprain. "I talked to guys and they said it's always going to feel a little different than usual. But it's one of the things you've got to kind of fight through a little bit. We'll see what happens."
After having a breakout 2010-11 season in which he scored 21 goals in 80 games and earned a new two-year contract, Kennedy has been limited to 6 goals and 16 assists in 42 games.
Still, Kennedy's return adds more depth to a balanced lineup that featured goals from five different players during the Penguins’ fifth consecutive win, a 5-1 victory at Colorado on Saturday.
Not that all of the Penguins' injury news is favorable. With defenseman Kris Letang out for the second time this season with concussion-like symptoms, defenseman Deryk Engelland (lower-body injury) isn't expected to play after getting hurt in Colorado --leaving the Penguins without two of their top six defensemen.
To replace Engelland, Brian Strait was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), where he has 3 goals and 9 assists in 34 games. Strait previously was called up to play Oct. 18 against Minnesota, only to sustain a wrist injury that put him out for 25 games.
Letang, who was hurt Wednesday in Dallas, was evaluated Monday by the Penguins' concussion specialists. Sidney Crosby, whose concussion-related layoff reached the three-month mark Monday, skated before practice.
The Penguins' projected lineup for the first of their four home games in seven days, a homestand that includes games against two first-place teams in Florida and Boston and a Wednesday game against Toronto and new coach Randy Carlyle:
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Craig Adams - Richard Park
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Paul Martin - Matt Niskanen
Brian Strait - Ben Lovejoy
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in goal, with Brad Thiessen as the backup. Fleury has won each of his last five starts, last losing Feb. 15 against Anaheim.
"I think if the team plays well in front of you, you can win games," Fleury said. "I think you just have to get in the groove, get comfortable in the net. I always try to reach that point as a goalie."
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