BOSTON, Massachusetts - The Penguins aren't sure of the availability of defenseman Brian Dumoulin for tonight's game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden at 7 p.m.
Dumoulin, who is tied for the league lead with a plus-11, missed practice Sunday and the flight to Boston in anticipation of the birth of his first child. As of this afternoon, the team was planning on playing without Dumoulin, though that could change.
Juuso Riikola took Dumoulin's spot on the blue line in Sunday's practice and will likely step into the lineup. He could slot into Dumoulin's position alongside Kris Letang.
"Juuso is a very versatile player," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We like Juuso's overall two-way game. Regardless of where we put him, if we choose to put him in the lineup, he's certainly a very capable NHL defenseman."
* While Dumoulin's status is unknown, the team will certainly be playing without forward Patric Hornqvist, who is out longer-term with a lower-body injury. In Hornqvist's absence, Bryan Rust has been elevated to play with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Galchenyuk.
Despite the adjustment, Rust won't be changing his game.
"Same (role) as wherever else I play," Rust said. "I play a north-south game, get in on the forecheck, use my speed to create some space for the guys I'm playing with."
And besides, the coaching staff likes what Rust can bring to that line: particularly his legs.
"The speed element," Sullivan said of Rust's key attribute. "His speed is dangerous. No matter what line he's on, he helps that line."
With Hornqvist out, that also means forward Dominik Kahun will be back in the lineup after being a one-game healthy scratch. The timing of the scratch was difficult for Kahun, who had four points (1G-3A) in his prior two games. In the game before sitting, Kahun posted a goal and three points.
"It's frustrating. Every player in every sport wants to play every game," said Kahun, who appeared in all 82 games last season. "There's nothing I can do about it.
"I don't think about it anymore. I'm ready for today."
* The Boston Bruins will provide a good test for the Penguins. Boston is the reigning Eastern Conference champion and is off to a hot start to the season. The club is 10-1-2, and hasn't lost in regulation at home this season.
"They're a team that's been really good. They've won a lot of games, and have guys that can put the puck in the net," Rust said. "We're going to have to come out hard and show what we got."
Leading the charge for Boston has been the club's top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. The trio have combined for 27 goals and 64 points in just 13 games played, led by Pastrnak's NHL-best 27 points (13G-14).
But the Penguins aren't so bad either.
"They're a very good line, we have a lot of respect for them," Sullivan said. "But we've got some good lines, too. That's the way we look at it."
* Goaltender Matt Murray will start. In his last three games, Murray is 2-0-1 with a .99 goals-against average and .964 save percentage. He has surrendered two goals or less in five of his last six games.