Defenseman Olli Maatta will be in the lineup Thursday night when the Penguins open the season against the Anaheim Ducks at CONSOL Energy Center.
“(Maatta) is ready to go,” head coach Mike Johnston said.
Maatta, who has been practicing with varying degrees of contact all training camp, left the team’s Wednesday morning practice early for a prearranged doctor’s appointment regarding his surgically repaired shoulder.
“We went on early (for practice) so that he could take part in the majority of practice,” Johnston said. “He had his final doctor’s appointment. It looks like he’s ready to go.”
Maatta underwent shoulder surgery in late May and rehabbed all summer. The team ramped up his contact level in practice as training camp progressed. Maatta hoped to play in the team’s final preseason contest against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 1, but was held out.
Thursday will be Maatta’s first game action since last year.
MALKIN EXPECTED TO RETURN
The Penguins are not only getting Maatta back in the lineup for the season opener, Johnston also said that Evgeni Malkin has a “99-percent” chance of playing.
Full story on Malkin here.
Penguins winger Chris Kunitz returned to practice after missing Tuesday’s session with an illness.
“It was just a cold,” Johnston said. “It was a precaution (to keep him out of Tuesday’s practice).”
The only players absent from practice that are on the Penguins’ 23-man roster were forwards Beau Bennett (lower-body) and Kasperi Kapanen (in Finland with family awaiting team’s final decision on his status) and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo (undisclosed) and Derrick Pouliot (shoulder).