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Blue Jackets' Bobrovsky back in goal vs. Penguins

Pittsburgh could have forwards Hagelin, Fehr in lineup

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

PENGUINS (34-28-8) at BLUE JACKETS (28-31-8)

TV: 7: p.m. ET, ROOT, FS-O, NHL-TV

COLUMBUS -- Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will play for the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bobrovsky has been out since Jan. 21 because of a groin injury.

He's had two stints in injured reserve because of groin injuries. He was injured Dec. 8, missed 17 games, returned to play Jan. 21 and Jan. 21, and then missed the next 19 games.

Even though the Blue Jackets have 15 games left and are far out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race, Bobrovsky said he never thought about taking the rest of the season off to give himself more time to recuperate.

"You don't want to lose a whole season," he said. "I've pretty much lost it but still you want to play. You want to feel the game; you want to feel the pace of the game. It's important. I'm definitely excited about the game. I look forward to playing some games."

Bobrovsky, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, is 11-13-1 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 27 games this season.

"He's so well-respected in the room. They're glad he's back," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "They see him every day pushing. They know he's been frustrated when he came back and was injured again. Guys like playing for him."

Tortorella said there is no restriction on how much Bobrovsky can play the rest of the season despite missing significant time because of groin injuries the past three seasons.

"He's going to play the majority of the games because he just hasn't played enough the last couple of years because of injuries," Tortorella said. "I'm not afraid to play him in back-to-backs."

Penguins forwards Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr will be game-time decisions, coach Mike Sullivan said. Hagelin has missed the past two games because of a head injury, and Fehr has been out 17 games because of a lower-body injury.

Fehr and Hagelin practiced the past two days.

"I felt good today," Hagelin said. "I'll talk to the doc right now. I'm positive and hope I'm going to play. I know what I can bring in terms of my speed and strength offensively but also helping out on the [penalty kill] and backchecks."

He has three goals and 13 points in 21 games since being traded to the Penguins on Jan. 16.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said the impending return of Hagelin, Fehr and Beau Bennett, who has been out because of an upper-body injury, will give the Penguins a boost.

"You want to make sure you're playing good hockey so when they come back it's an easier adjustment and everyone's on the same page," Crosby said. "Minutes may change but other than that it's nice to see guys jumping back in."

Here are the projected lineups

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Tom Kuhnhackl - Nick Bonino - Bryan Rust

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matthew Murray

Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Ben Lovejoy (upper body), Kevin Porter (ankle surgery)

Scratched: Jeff Zatkoff, Derrick Pouliot, Tom Sestito

BLUE JACKETS

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Alexander Wennberg - Scott Hartnell

Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - David Clarkson

Rene Bourque - Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - Seth Jones

Cody Goloubef - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Brandon Saad (upper body), Jack Johnson (upper body)

Scratched: None

Status report: Sestito was the last player off the ice after practice, normally a sign that he would be scratched after playing the past two games, but Sullivan was noncommittal. "Tommy brings a dimension," he said. "He's a physical presence. He's a guy that makes us harder to play against. When he is in the lineup our opponents take notice." … Saad will miss his third straight game.

Who's hot: Crosby has three goals and seven assists during his six-game point streak. … Atkinson had two goals and an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

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