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Galchenyuk gets opportunity in Guentzel's absence

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

When Penguins forward Jake Guentzel left Monday's 5-2 win against Ottawa in the third period, Pittsburgh elevated Alex Galchenyuk into his spot on the top line with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust.

Judging by the team's line rushes at Wednesday's practice, it appears that Galchenyuk will be given that opportunity again when Pittsburgh hosts San Jose at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night.

"Just trying to come in and do my best and bring what I can bring to the line to help the team win," Galchenyuk said. "Obviously, (Malkin) and Rusty and Guentz were playing great. I'm going to try to come in and bring my skill set and help those guys keep being successful."

This won't be the first time these three players have been on a line together. They worked in parts of three games in early November, and Galchenyuk has played several games alongside Malkin.

"It doesn't matter what happened in the past. It's a new opportunity and it's a new season," Galchenyuk said. "I feel comfortable with my game, so hopefully it transfers and we click better than we did in the start.

"You can't judge chemistry off one practice. You've got to go into games and try to go out there and make something happen and keep building on it."

Galchenyuk was injured at the start of the season and has been off to a slow start. But he's been finding his game lately, posting two goals and three points in his past three games.

"I definitely feel better now than before the break," Galchenyuk said. "I still got to keep working on it and keep contributing."

Galcheyuk's recent contribution has earned him an opportunity play alongside Malkin and Rust.

"We're trying to put (Galchenyuk) in positions where he can play to his strengths and he can be successful," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Given the circumstances that we're under right now it's a great opportunity for Alex. We're looking for guys to step up and play more significant roles for us. Alex is very capable.

"We'll see where it goes. But we thought we would start there. I think Alex has played very well his last couple of weeks here. So, that certainly influences some of the coaching staff's decisions."

Rust is looking forward to having Galchenyuk on his opposite wing.

"He's obviously got great offensive instincts. He's got a really good shot," Rust said. "He's developing some chemistry with Geno here, so I hope I can help that out, just trying to use my speed, create some space for him, try to open up some time for him in the slot to be able to use that shot."

Guentzel will be hard to replace. He leads the club with 20 goals and 43 points, and had seven points (3G-4A) in his past four games. But Galchenyuk's isn't trying to replace anyone.

"It's pretty hard to replace that," Galchenyuk said. "I don't think it's too beneficial for me to go out there and think I need to replace someone. Just got to go out there and do my best and see what I can do.

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