Here are the 3 biggest takeaways from the Pens' Thursday afternoon practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex…
1. Injuries mount
The Pens were already hurting with lower-body injuries to Kris Letang and Justin Schultz - the team's two best offensive defensemen.
The injury list has mounted with upper-body injuries to forward Bryan Rust (longer term), defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (week-to-week) and goaltender Matt Murray (day-to-day).
Both Letang and Murray will join the team on their upcoming 3-game road trip and are listed as day-to-day, however both were ruled out for Friday's contest in Carolina.
Letang, Schultz, Rust, Ruhwedel and Murray were all absent from Pittsburgh's practice.
The Pens said it after their 4-2 victory in Arizona two weeks ago. They said it following a 3-2 shootout win against Columbus last week. And they said it again today after besting the Blue Jackets again - and again in a shootout - on Thursday night.
The Pens need to build off of the win and start a streak.
"We can talk about it all we want. We have to go out there and follow it up and have some consistency," captain Sidney Crosby said. "If there's a time to find it, it's now. It's a tight race. We've gotta find our way back into the playoffs. We have a lot of divisional games in the second half. We've got to put some games together."
Pittsburgh has only registered one 4-game winning streak and one 3-game winning streak so far this season. The Pens want to use the 5-4 comeback win against the Jackets as a springboard to stringing a few victories together.
"We're hoping that the resilience the team showed certainly should give us all a boost of confidence," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "As long as we stay the course and stay in the fight and continue to try to play the game the right way, we have the capability to come back in games and win games."
The team has produced a lot of standalone wins. But that needs to change. And to do that, they need to forget about Thursday against Columbus, and refocus on Friday in Carolina.
"We just have to make sure to bring it the next night," defenseman Olli Maatta said. "The last game doesn't really matter tomorrow."
The Pens recalled blueliner Frank Corrado from WBS in the morning. Here was the workflow at practice…
Team employee Mike Chiasson filled in at goal for Murray during practice.