The Pens continue their Canadian tour tonight with a showdown in Vancouver against the Canucks. It is the second of four contests north of the border for the Pens. They played Toronto last Saturday and will finish with back-to-back games against Edmonton and Calgary on Friday-Saturday.
Pittsburgh will face a stiff test from Vancouver, who is tied with the Los Angeles Kings atop the Pacific Division. The Canucks swept the Pens last season and didn’t surrender a goal, winning both games by a combined 8-0.
KUNITZ GAME-TIME Forward Chris Kunitz, who missed the past two practices for maintenance, was back on the ice with the team for their morning skate.
Head coach Mike Johnston said he will be a game-time decision.
“We’ll see how it reacts to being on the ice,” Kunitz said. “It’s been a few days. Hopefully, everything goes well and I’ll be ready to go.
MORNING SKATE The Pens did not work in line rushes at their morning skate. They did work on the power play, which remains the same as it was in the previous game:
Unit 1: Letang, Kessel, Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist Unit 2: Cole, Bennett, Bonino, Perron, Kunitz
SUTTER HOME I wrote yesterday about tonight being a homecoming for both Pens head coach Mike Johnston, who said he and his family consider Vancouver “home,” and center Nick Bonino.
But it’s also a reunion of sorts for center Brandon Sutter. The former Pen is off to a great start to the season with seven points (3G-4A) through 12 games and is tied for third on the team.
“It’s a little bit different playing a former team,” Sutter said. “You go out for warmups and see some of your buddies on the other side. I’ve been through it before so I know what to expect, but once the game gets going you pay much attention to it. You just get into the groove of the game.”
Sutter had dinner with a few Pens last night.
“I got to see them again, it’s always fun,” Sutter said. “You miss guys when you go to new teams. It was nice to see them. Hopefully they’ll enjoy the city.”
BEHIND ENEMY LINES The Canucks may get a boost to their lineup as Chris Higgins is expected to return to the lineup tonight. He is projected by the local media to play wing with Sutter.
“We’ll check him after the (morning) skate, but he seemed good yesterday,” head coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s a tough choice on who will come out.”
Sven Baertschi is expected to come out of the lineup, per Sports Net’s Irfaan Gaffar.
GAME INFO Where: Rogers Arena When: Wednesday, 10 p.m. TV: ROOT Sports Radio: 105.9 the X, the Penguins Radio Network Social: @penguins, @PensInsideScoop