Pens defenseman Brian Dumoulin rejoined his teammates for practice Wednesday afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Dumoulin, who skated on his own Tuesday, suffered an undisclosed injury after taking a hit from Alexander Ovechkin in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
“I’m feeling good,” Dumoulin said. “Anytime you get hit like that at first you’re thinking the worst, but it was good to get back on the ice with the guys today and skate in a full practice.”
Dumoulin is feeling better, but he is taking things day to day, and his status against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night has yet to be determined.
“We’re still taking steps,” Dumoulin said. “We’re going to see how pre-game skate goes tomorrow. Obviously not sure, but today was a good day to be out there. It was better than skating by myself. It was good to be out there with the team.”
Pens head coach Mike Sullivan said that Dumoulin will be a game-time decision against the Devils.
“All reports are that (Dumoulin) felt really strong. He looked really good,” Sullivan said. “We’ll see how he responds.”
Dumoulin, who skated with his usual defensive partner Trevor Daley at practice, is happy to be back skating with the team, and he is thankful that his injury was not more serious, especially considering who he was hit by.
“He’s (Ovechkin) a tank out there,” Dumoulin laughed. “He’s a big guy, and when he’s coming full speed if he hits you anywhere it’s going to hurt. So it’s good that it was nothing serious.”MORNING SKATE INFO
All expected players took part in the morning skate. Forward Beau Bennett continues to practice with the team, though whether or not he returns to the lineup after missing 25 games with an upper-body injury on Thursday has yet to be determined.
“(Bennett) had a good practice today. The reports are that he felt strong,” Sullivan said. “We’ll see how he responds tomorrow and make a game-time decision with (Bennett).”
The Pens used the following lines at practice…
Sheary-Sundqvist-FehrDOWN THE STRETCH
The Pens will conclude a nine-game stretch against Metro Division foes Thursday against New Jersey. They are currently 7-1 on the run, and with 10 regular-season games remaining, the Pens are hoping to finish the season strong.
“I think it will be a tough game,” Carl Hagelin said of facing the Devils. “They’re an enthusiastic team. I think they have a lot of young guys who want to prove themselves, and we have to be ready. We have to play our game and focus on what we can do.”
The Pens are riding a six-game winning streak, the longest under Sullivan, and are two points behind the New York Rangers for second place in the division.
Though the Devils will likely miss the playoffs, they have also seen some success lately, winning four out of their last six games.
“You can’t overlook anybody,” Chris Kunitz explained. “I think even at this time of the year you kind of try to work on what you think is going to work for your team. Obviously they’re giving us the scout and the way the team’s playing, but every team is fighting for every two points.”
It’s fitting that the Pens will end their nine-game stretch against division foes with the Devils, which is the team they opened their run against on March 6. Pittsburgh has the most wins (8) and points (16) during the month of March and their offense has taken off. In the Pens’ last six games they have outscored their opponents 24-11.
Throughout these next few weeks, the Pens will continue to push themselves so that they peak at the right time. That being said, they’re also sticking to coach Sullivan’s motto and taking things one day at a time. All of their energy is focused on the most important game, the next one.
“I would expect the same game that we get every time we play the Devils,” Sullivan said. “They’re a hard checking team. They play hard. They’re hard to play against. It’s going to be a battle, and that’s the way it is every time you play the Devils. I think at this time of year regardless of who your opponent is that’s the type of game that you have to come to expect, and you have to be prepared for and embrace the challenge.”