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DeSmith Leaves Practice Early

Here are the updates from Friday's skate at PPG Paints Arena

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

The Penguins started Friday's practice at PPG Paints Arena with perfect attendance, but it didn't last.

Goaltender Casey DeSmith left about a half hour in after making a save during special teams work. He appeared to be in pain and was slow to get up before heading down the runway into the locker room, and did not return to the session.

Head coach Mike Sullivan said DeSmith is currently being evaluated for a lower-body injury.

"We'll probably have more information moving forward," Sullivan said.

Maxime Lagace took over for DeSmith for the remainder of practice. The 28-year-old netminder got the nod in Pittsburgh's regular-season finale and became the first goaltender in Penguins history to post a shutout in his first start with the team. 

Lagace was terrific, making 29 saves in the 1-0 win over the Sabres to help the Penguins clinch the East Division title and home ice in at least the first two rounds of the postseason.

"He did a great job for us against Buffalo last week," Sullivan said. "My hope is that it will give him a big boost of confidence having played in NHL game this year. And so if we are called upon to put him in the net, I think that should help him moving forward. But he's a good goalie. We know we can make a timely save for us that can give our team a chance to win."

DeSmith did not dress for the last three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, but was originally expected to be ready for Game 1 against the New York Islanders, which is scheduled for Sunday at noon. The Penguins practice again on Saturday, so we should know more about his situation then.

But regardless of what the backup goalie situation ends up being for Sunday, there is no question as to who Pittsburgh's starter will be. 

Tristan Jarry said he feels ready to go after sitting out that game against the Sabres with an upper-body injury. It will mark the first time in his career that Jarry will enter the NHL playoffs as the No. 1 goalie. 

"I'm very excited," he said. "It's something that I've worked for for a very long time."

The 26-year-old goaltender feels good both physically and mentally, especially after ending the season on a 13-1-1 run.

"I think I've gotten better every game that's gone on this year," Jarry said. "I think I just targeted some key aspects of my game that I wanted to improve, and I was able to do that. Just being able to improve throughout the season, just get better and work on my game, and the chances I got, I think that's done nothing but help me this year."

Video: Jarry speaks to the media

Evgeni Malkin - who played in the final four games of the season after missing 23 contests with a lower-body injury - took the ice early to skate on his own with skills coach Ty Hennes, and then stayed out for practice as a full participant. 

"He's trying to capture his very best game," Sullivan said. "He's working through it every day. He's working extremely hard at it. I think he's excited about the opportunity in front of us. But Geno works really hard at getting back. He's an important player for us. And I think he understands that he wants to be a part of it. So he's working extremely hard to get to this point."

Here is the workflow the Penguins used…

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust 

Zucker-Malkin-Kapanen 

McCann-Carter-Gaudreau 

Aston-Reese-Blueger-Tanev 

Dumoulin-Letang 

Matheson-Ceci 

Pettersson-Marino

Friedman-Ruhwedel

The Penguins also spent a lot of time on special teams.

The first unit was Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel and Rust. Marino got the bulk of the reps with McCann, Carter, Kapanen and Zucker on the second unit, but Matheson took some as well. Then at one point, both Matheson and Marino were out there, with Zucker being the odd man out.

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