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Another Penguin returns to practice

Nick Bjugstad joined his teammates on Thursday for the first time since November

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Positive news on the injury front keeps coming for the Penguins.

Forward Nick Bjugstad joined team practice wearing a white no-contact jersey on Thursday at Toyota Sports Performance Complex for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury back in November.

"It was amazing," Bjugstad said of being back with his teammates. "I woke up this morning with a smile on my face. It's been a long time coming. Definitely makes you appreciate the game. It's tough sitting out with any injury, but for that period of time definitely thankful I was able to recoup and get back the strength here. Hopefully I'm back soon."

Video: Bjugstad speaks after practice

It's been quite the rehab process for Bjugstad, who last played on Nov. 15 against New Jersey and has missed the last 47 games. 

There were times when it seemed like Bjugstad was getting closer, like when the 27-year-old traveled with the team on their three-game trip to Vegas, Colorado and Arizona in the beginning of January, only to remain status quo.

"It's been up and down, for sure," Bjugstad said. "It's a tough injury and things happen throughout. A lot of times you think you get surgery and it's a reset button, but a lot of times you've got to work some other kinks out along with it. That was part of the process. I think we kind of expected that."

While Bjugstad said he didn't expect to be out this long, he's just focused on controlling what he can control.

"You just got to keep your head down and keep going," he said. "Tried to stay positive. The staff has been awesome with me. I think we're all relieved that I was back out on the ice here."

Other injury news…

- Defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino progressed to full contact after returning to practice for the first time since suffering their respective injuries in a no-contact fashion on Tuesday.

Dumoulin has missed the last 34 games since undergoing surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle on Dec. 1, while Marino has missed the last nine games since undergoing surgery to repair facial bone fractures on Feb. 10. 

"We have a sense (of when they'll return), but I'm just not going to share it," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "But obviously the fact that they're participating in full contact, I think that's real encouraging from our standpoint."

- Forward Jared McCann missed Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Los Angeles with an upper-body injury. He started today's practice wearing a red no-contact jersey, but switched to a regular yellow jersey for line rushes. 

McCann centered the fourth line while Dominik Simon, Sam Lafferty and Evan Rodrigues all rotated in on his wings. He also practiced on the second power-play unit.

"He's day-to-day with an upper-body injury," Sullivan said. "He'll be a game-time decision (Friday versus Anaheim). 

Here is the rest of the workflow the Penguins used…

Zucker-Crosby-Sheary 

Rust-Malkin-Hornqvist 

Marleau-Blueger-Tanev

Johnson-Letang

Pettersson-Schultz

Dumoulin, Marino, Ruhwedel, Riikola and Trotman all rotated.

First power-play unit: Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist, Rust

Second power-play unit: Schultz, Pettersson/Riikola, McCann, Zucker, Marleau

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