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3 Things: Hornqvist on Holtby, Sprong and more

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Pens' Friday afternoon practice…

1. Goal or no goal

Pens winger Patric Hornqvist seems to have gotten under Braden Holtby's skin. That's not surprising. He usually has that effect on opposing goaltenders.

The Caps goalie took issue with Hornqvist's contact during a late second-period power play in Game 4 on Thursday night. On the play Hornqvist jammed at a loose puck, getting a piece of Holtby's pad. Evgeni Malkin managed to pot the rebound, but the Capitals challenged the goal on the basis of goaltender interference.

The Caps lost that challenge. The goal stood.

"Hornqvist was whacking my pad, not even close to the puck. I'm not really sure why that's allowed," Holtby told Trib Total Media's Chris Adamski. "He drives himself right in my hips so I can't push up and defend the far side of the net."

Hornqvist recalled the sequence differently.

"I just remember I got the puck on my stick and I tried to throw it up to the side," he said. "'Geno' got it and put it in. That's what the game's all about. Both sides aren't going to be happy, but it is what it is."

Hornqvist was surprised to learn that Holtby was upset by the call.

"I didn't even know he was mad," Hornqvist said. "A few guys told me today they saw some quotes after the game. At the game he didn't show it, so it is what it is."

Hornqvist had a goal disallowed in Game 2 of the series after the referees couldn't determine with indisputable evidence if the puck was over the line. With "deductive reasoning" - as head coach Mike Sullivan put it - the team believed it was a goal. But Hornqvist didn't fret about it.

"I thought it was in. (The refs) couldn't see it," he said following the game. "That's hockey. What can you do about it now?"

2. Sprong ready if needed

Forward Daniel Sprong is a member of the Pens' traveling practice squad team - known as the Black Aces - for the third straight season. But this time he is coming off of a hugely successful rookie season.

Sprong led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League in scoring with 65 points. He posted 32 goals, a new franchise rookie record, while ranking second in the entire AHL. Sprong was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.

"It was a good year," Sprong said. "I think I grew a lot as a player. I was excited to go back to (WBS) after I was sent down and having a good second half. I thought as a team we had a good year as well, too.

"Looking back on it, I'm pretty happy."

Sprong has been taking part in the team's pre-game warmups. He is an option to enter the lineup at any time. When or if he plays is out of his control.

"I just come to the rink everyday, work hard," Sprong said. "If I get a chance to play I'll give it everything I have to help the team win. For now I'll just keep working hard and wait for my opportunity."

And if he is thrown into the lineup, Sprong will be prepared .

"I feel if I get thrown in I'm ready," Sprong said. "I have a lot of confidence in the year I had. So if I do get the opportunity, I'll be ready to go."

3. Practice details

The Pens held an optional practice. Only 10 skaters and two goalies took part. Those that skated were forwards Sidney Crosby, Sprong, Carter Rowney, Hornqvist, Conor Sheary and Dominik Simon, defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, Kris Letang and Matt Hunwick and goalies Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry.

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