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Morning Skate Update: 3/17

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins


Fri   vs. Dayton Bombers  7:35pm
Sat   vs. Reading Royals  7:35pm
Sun   vs. Reading Royals  4:05pm

Wed vs. Reading Royas L, 2-4
Sat vs. Johnstown Chiefs W, 8-5
Sun vs. Johnstown Chiefs W, 2-1

In a game that was full of playoff intensity from start to finish, Wheeling defenseman Mitch Ganzak scored the game-winning goal on a wrist shot from the top of the far faceoff circle with 31 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Nailers the win, 2-1.

The win pushed the Nailers into a first place tie with Cincinnati, who defeated Trenton today, 3-2.

The win was Wheeling’s fourth straight win over Johnstown. Wheeling defeated Johnstown in a high-scoring 8-5 affair Saturday night.

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Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who missed Monday's practice due to illness, participated in the Penguins' Tuesday morning skate and will be in the lineup against the Atlanta Thrashers at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m.

"Today he came in with a smile on his face so I think that means he feels better," interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He looked better on the ice and hopefully that will give him more jump in his game."

The Penguins line combinations at the morning skate were:

The defensive pairings were:


> Atlanta will be without its leading scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk, for the game against the Penguins. Kovalchuk, who paces the team with 78 points on 36 goals and 42 assists, has missed the past two games with an upper body injury.

Also, the Penguins will not have to face goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has been tremendous in the last few games for the Thrashers.

Instead, Johan Hedberg will make his first start at Mellon Arena against his former team.

"I've been here a few times since I was traded but I never got a chance to play," Hedberg said. "I'm pretty excited about tonight. There will be a lot of butterflys and nervousness."

Heberg's last season with the Penguins was the 2002-03 campaign. But everytime he enters Mellon Arena he remembers his days as a Penguin.

"It's great coming back here," he said. "It's an old building. It has a lot of character to it. It has a certain smell that gives me some flash backs.

"I have a lot of memories, my first game here, our first playoff game here," he said. "This is the place where I got play in the NHL. I'm going to cherish that for the rest of my life. This is a special place for me."
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