DALLAS, Texas - The cavalry has arrived.
The Penguins had not one, not two, but three injured players return to full team practice on Friday afternoon at American Airlines Center: Alex Galchenyuk (lower-body injury); Nick Bjugstad (lower) and Bryan Rust (upper).
And two of those three could return to the lineup as early as tomorrow (Saturday) against the Dallas Stars.
"(Rust and Bjugstad) felt good in practice. They had a strong practice," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're status is game-time decisions. It looked encouraging watching them practice today.
"Alex will not play tomorrow. But he's getting really close. He's joined the team in practice. That's the reason we brought him out here to get him around the team and in team practices. The next step would be the decision to put him back in the game. The first step is to get him back with the team."
All three players took part in various capacities of line rushes and special teams work. Bjugstad centered a line with Rust and Patric Hornqvist during rush drills. Then Bjugstad centered a line with Galchenyuk and Hornqvist during faceoff drills.
Bjugstad and Galchenyuk (limited) worked with the second power-play units, while Rust took part in the penalty kill.
All three players were happy to rejoin the team on the ice…
Rust: "'I'm really excited to be back." He added when asked if he'll play: "Hope so. We'll see, but I'd like to think so."
Bjugstad: "If I do play it'll be exciting tomorrow. You don't want to start the season off with an injury so I'll be excited to go if I do."
Galchenyuk: "It's day-by-day right now. I got some contact today. I'm going to do that again tomorrow too and see how it responds. We'll go from there."
Rust, who was injured after blocking a shot with his hand, said he will not shy away from blocking shots in the future. "I don't think I'd be here if I didn't (block shots)." But he has worked with the equipment staff on putting extra padding in his gloves to help prevent another such injury from occurring.
Meanwhile, Galchenyuk put to rest a rumor that he had an allergic reaction to a spider bite and it delayed his recovery from injury.
"I had a really bad allergic reaction. When I got to the hospital the doctors said I got bit," he said. "I don't why the spider got out. It wasn't official that it was a spider or anything in particular.
"There was a report that it stalled my rehab. None of that happened. It was all good. Just an allergic reaction."
All in all, Galchenyuk was glad to just be around the team again.
"Meeting the guys here is good for me. It's exciting," he said. "it's always positive.
"Injuries always suck. It's tough to miss games and watch at home from the couch. You want to be a part of it and want to help. You also want to be smart and make sure you're 100 percent when you come back."