Goaltender Matt Murray was scheduled to join team practice on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since suffering a broken hand at the World Cup of Hockey on Sept. 19.
And even though the Pens kept the guys who played Tuesday night in Montreal off the ice - only Bryan Rust, Tom Sestito, Derrick Pouliot and Mike Condon skated - it was still a big step for Murray.
"Today was probably the most I've pushed it, the most aggressive I've been with my stick in front of the net, that type of thing, with puck-handling and making hard passes," Murray said. "Tested it out pretty good today and it felt pretty good. It's still sore, it's going to be sore for a long time, but the strength is there and it feels pretty good. We'll keep going day-to-day here."
Murray was given a 3-6 week timetable for recovery, and so far it's been exactly one month.
"With what the doctors said, we're right on time, right on schedule," Murray said. "Good day today. I'm progressing slowly but no real time frame yet."
When asked what he needs to happen in order to be ready for game action, Murray said they just have to take it day-by-day.
"I think just getting a couple days of practice in," he said. "It's a day-to-day type of thing, so you come back one day and maybe it's a lot more sore than what it usually is and you might have to ease off a little bit. But I think it's just about getting the pace back a little bit and getting the heart rate going like in a real practice and just kind of taking it step by step."
He's already made a lot of steps. At first, Murray was skating without his stick for a long time. Then he progressed to taking shots with his stick. Now, he's diving into situations that are a little less controlled.
"Like a scramble-type situation where you're just kind of trying to get across the net as fast as you can or get your stick down as fast as you can," he explained. "That's kind of how it happened, was in a scramble situation like that."
Murray is still wearing a splint on his hand, which he keeps on pretty much 24 hours a day. It helps keep his thumb stable and reduces his risk of jamming it.
"It actually gives me some pretty good power when I've got to lean into a shot or be aggressive with my stick in front of the net," Murray explained. "So it feels pretty comfortable out there. I've been wearing it for a while now, so it kind of feels pretty normal now."
He's got no real limitations off the ice, either - except when it comes to texting.
"It's pretty annoying, actually," Murray said with a laugh. "I've got to go with one hand or I use my index finger."
Head coach Mike Sullivan said defenseman Kris Letang is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, while winger Conor Sheary is day-to-day with an eye injury.
Sheary left in the second period of Tuesday's 4-0 loss to Montreal after taking a high stick to the face, while Letang left halfway through the third period after being hit into the boards from behind by Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher.
"Those potentially could have been real serious injuries," Sullivan said. "So obviously we'd like to have them in the lineup, and so our hope is that we get them."
Sullivan added that captain Sidney Crosby (concussion) skated this morning and remains status quo.
"He's still day-to-day. We'll see how he responds and go from there," Sullivan said.