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Pens' lineup: Daley? Streit? Seven D?

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators tonight at 8 p.m. at Canadian Tire Centre without several key players. 

Forwards Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz have been ruled out with upper-body injuries, though their status remains day-to-day.

On the bright side, the Pens may be getting back blueliner Trevor Daley, who missed the past four games with a lower-body injury.

"I'll get warmup in and go from there," Daley said. "I'm excited. When I went down it was frustrating. I missed a lot of time last year. It's not where I wanted to be. I'm excited at the progress I've made in the last week."

Daley has skated for the past three days and was characterized as a game-time decision by head coach Mike Sullivan.

Daley took part in line rushes with partner Olli Maatta and worked the second power-play unit at the team's morning skate.

"I feel like I can skate well. That was the battle. I feel like I'm back," Daley said. "I haven't been out for that long. It's only been a week. It's not that new. I'm excited to hopefully get back tonight."

If Daley were to return it would be a huge boost to the team's backend. Daley, Schultz and Kris Letang (herniated disc) are the team's best three offensive defensemen and breakout passers. Having all three sidelined would be detrimental to their defensive zone exits.

Another player that could enter the lineup is defenseman Mark Streit, who has been a healthy scratch so far this postseason. Streit is another strong skater and good puck mover. His presence could also help the team on breakouts and special teams.

"If I play I'm obviously really excited. It's a big challenge," he said. "I haven't played in a while. I'm just thrilled if I get to play and looking forward to it."

Streit worked with the Pens' top power-play unit at the morning skate and is excited about the prospect of returning to action.

"Fortunately I got the chance a few times during the regular season to be out there with them, have a few reps," Streit said. "So I kind of know what their goal is and what they want to achieve. They're high-end skill guys. They can score, shoot. They can do it all. It's just a matter of giving them the puck, for me getting pucks on net and helping out that way."

The Pens also have the option of playing seven defensemen, dressing both Daley and Streit for insurance. Regardless of how it plays out, Streit will be running on pure adrenaline during the game.

"It's the best time of the year," he said. "You wait a long time to get an opportunity to play. If that's the case tonight, I'm thrilled about it and really happy. I want to help the team."

Hornqvist and Rust skated in warmups prior to the morning skate. Schultz skated for a few minutes in full gear on his own before the morning skate.

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