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Penguins Report: Fleury To Start In Atlanta

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
It's official. After a few days of speculation, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be between the pipes for the Penguins when they play the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m.

"He's going to play (Thursday)," Therrien said following Wednesday's practice at Southpointe. "He feels good. It's good for him to get some practice under his belt. I think his timing is sharp now and I think he's ready to play."

"I'm looking forward to getting back in there," Fleury said. "It's been a while now. It's always frustrating when you're out. I wanted to get back as quick as I could."

Fleury hasn't played for Pittsburgh since suffering an undisclosed injury Nov. 15 against the Buffalo Sabres.

Fleury was Dany Sabourin's backup against Philadelphia on Saturday. Though he was physically ready, Therrien said he wanted Fleury to have some more practice time under his belt before playing him.

"I don't think Saturday was a great day to put him out there," Therrien said. "He didn't have any practice. He practiced with three guys on the ice the last week almost. That was not the right time for him to get back."

The right time will be Thursday.

> Ruslan Fedotenko returned to practice after sitting out the previous day. Fedotenko had an illness but was able to practice and will be in the lineup against Atlanta.

"He's going to go," Therrien said.


With the status of Maxime Talbot and Mike Zigomanis still undetermined, the Penguins recalled Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stone from the American Hockey League.

"It's really exciting," Stone said. "The coach called and I was just about to lie down for an afternoon nap and I couldn't nap because I had to pack and get ready to go.'

The two will skate with Eric Godard on the fourth line, while Tim Wallace will handle Tyler Kennedy's spot on the third line. The top two lines remain unchanged.

> One of the final hurdles for Ryan Whitney in his comeback was handling the physical contact in practice. Since returning to practice, Whitney has stuck mostly with skating and passing drills. That changed on Tuesday when he partook in the physical battles in practice.

"The past two days were the first two days I've done (the physical stuff)," Whitney said. "I have to get used to that, getting hit and giving hits, stopping quick and stuff like that. That's pretty much it. Being able to stop quick and cover someone in the corner is the last step."

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