PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will welcome a few players back to their lineup while adjusting to the loss of defenseman Paul Martin when they face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Forwards Joe Vitale (upper body) and Taylor Pyatt (lower body) will return after missing 12 and two games respectively. Their presence will strengthen Pittsburgh's bottom-six, which had featured defenseman Deryk Engelland at right wing on the fourth line in recent games.
Forward Pascal Dupuis spoke for the first time since tearing his ACL on Dec. 23. Brian Gibbons will continue to fill Dupuis' role as the top-line right wing for the time being. Dupuis is expected to fully recover in 6-8 months, but said he is attempting to recover in closer to six.
"I'm feeling good, surgery went well," Dupuis said. "I know my season is over this year. It definitely looks and sounds long, but I guess you can't rush anything."
With Martin expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand, the Penguins will adjust their defense pairings with Engelland returning to defense exclusively and playing alongside Brooks Orpik.
"You kind of get used to going up and back, but obviously I'm still not 100 percent comfortable with playing up front," Engelland said. "It's a lot easier to go back to the point and play where you've been playing for your whole career."
The Canadiens did not hold a morning skate after their 2-1 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. It is uncertain if goalie Peter Budaj will start for the second consecutive night with Carey Price (lower body) injured.
Montreal backup goalie Dustin Tokarski has not started an NHL game since March 19, 2012 while with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Here are the expected lineups for the Penguins and Canadiens:
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Tanner Glass – Brandon Sutter – Chuck Kobasew
Taylor Pyatt – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Deryk Engelland
Rob Scuderi – Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Simon Despres
Injured: Kris Letang (stroke), Paul Martin (broken hand), Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Danny Briere – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Alex Galchenyuk – Lars Eller – Rene Bourque
George Parros – Travis Moen – Dale Weise
Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Jarred Tinordi – Douglas Murray
Scratched: Francis Bouillon, Ryan White (flu)
Injured: Michael Bournival (concussion), Davis Drewiske (shoulder), Carey Price (lower body), Brandon Prust (upper body)