The Pens finally got some good news on the injury front when Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad returned to team practice on Monday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Both forwards - who wore no-contact jerseys for most of the session before changing into full contact jerseys towards the end - will be traveling with the Penguins on their three-game road trip to Florida, Tampa and Dallas.
In addition, forward Jared McCann skated with the team in a full-contact jersey after missing two of the last three games due to injury and defenseman Zach Trotman participated in a no-contact jersey (sports hernia surgery, nine games missed).
"It's always great to see guys graduate into team practice," Sidney Crosby said. "I think they bring energy, they bring life, they're excited to be back with the guys. We're happy to see that guys are progressing. That always picks everyone up when you see that."
Bjugstad is eligible to come off of injured reserve at any time. Since Rust is on long-term injured reserve - which means a player has to miss at least 10 NHL games and 24 days - he won't be eligible to play until Saturday against the Stars.
"I'm hoping to be back by Saturday," Rust said. "It was good to be out there today and I feel good."
It would be Rust's season debut, as he was hurt in Pittsburgh's preseason finale on Sept. 28 against Buffalo when a shot hit him in the hand during a penalty kill in the third period.
"I don't even know if I really wanted to (block it), it was just reaction," Rust said. "Just out there on the 5-on-3, and it stinks that it happened with five minutes left in the last preseason game. But stuff happens."
Meanwhile, Bjugstad suffered a lower-body injury in the second game of the season on Oct. 7 versus Columbus.
"It's no fun getting injured at any point in the season, but especially at the beginning," Bjugstad said. "You want to really get off to a good start. In the meantime, these guys have been awesome. I don't like watching, but I did enjoy watching them play really well. As far as I go, just really excited to be back on the ice and practice here."
Moving forward, Bjugstad said he plans to just keep taking things day-by-day.
"The training staff has been great so far in helping me get back," he said. "We're still not sure on the timeline, but just good to be back out for the first practice."
In other injury news, defenseman Brian Dumoulin was absent from practice after being a late scratch for Saturday's 3-0 loss to Vegas. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said he is out with a lower-body injury and will miss the next two games.
"We'll update it from there," Sullivan said.
In addition, Sullivan said that Evgeni Malkin (lower-body; seven games missed) and Alex Galchenyuk (lower-body, six games missed) skated on their own with skills coach Ty Hennes this morning. They will not travel with the team.
Here's the workflow that the Penguins used…