The Pittsburgh Penguins returned from the holiday break today in preparations for Tuesday night’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes who were victorious tonight, defeating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on home ice.
Brandon Sutter scored twice and Cam Ward made 23 saves to earn the win. Carolina took over the game in the second period, outshooting New Jersey, 13-2 and getting goals from Tuomo Ruutu and Anthony Stewart in the period. The Hurricanes (12-19-6, 30 pts) have won two straight and are 14th in the East with 30 points.
Pittsburgh (20-11-4, 44 pts) enters Tuesday trailing the New York Rangers (22-8-4, 48 pts) by four points for the conference and division lead. New York shutout the Islanders 3-0 tonight, earning their 5th straight win.
Latest Injury Buzz
For the Penguins on the injury front, things are status quo as the Penguins remain mum on the status of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.
Crosby last practiced with the team on Dec 7. and the Penguins are trying to keep all of his on-ice and off-ice activities quiet for now. There has been no indication that Crosby has been forced to shutdown his workouts after suffering headaches during the week of Dec 5 – 12.
Head coach Dan Bylsma, as expected, provided no update on Crosby today and Kris Letang (concussion) who like Crosby remains out indefinitely.
Meanwhile, two players are on the mend for the Penguins and a third is finally starting to make some progress in his rehab.
Paul Martin – There are no fears about a long-term injury for Martin and barring a setback, Martin is expected to be cleared to practice by Wednesday or Thursday. A team source says there is an outside chance Martin could be ready to return Saturday afternoon vs the Devils.
The Penguins currently have six healthy defensemen due to the return of Zbynek Michalek who was back in the lineup on Friday. Brooks Orpik – Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres – Zbynek Michalek, Alex Picard – Ben Lovejoy are the current top-6 after the team sent Brian Strait back to Wilkes Barre and Deryk Engelland will serve the second game of a three game suspension tomorrow night.
Richard Park – The veteran forward is into the third week of his rehab with a fractured foot and he’s expected to be cleared for game action in 10-14 days. Park skated today and didn’t have much issues.
Dustin Jeffrey (knee) – It has been a lost first half of the season for Dustin Jeffrey who returned too early from ACL surgery when his knee wasn’t strong enough than suffered a setback in his rehab about four weeks ago. Things are finally on the upswing for Jeffrey who skated before practice going through individual workouts. The Penguins though will remain extremely cautious with Jeffrey and he’s still at least 2-3 weeks away and that’s an optimistic view.