Penguins lose winger Dupuis to injury in road loss against Senators
OTTAWA, Ontario — Pascal Dupuis is more than just captain Sidney Crosby's other winger for the Penguins.
He is the superglue that binds together a team that has shown remarkable resiliency in the face of adversity over the past four seasons.
Losing him could leave a bruise so deep it sticks.
Dupuis was injured on his second shift in a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
His leg buckled inward when he was struck by Crosby, who was upended by a hip-check from Senators defenseman Marc Methot.
Dupuis, while kneeling behind the Senators net after crashing into the boards, twice tapped his right knee with his glove upon being checked by a referee.
He was helped to the training room by two teammates and did not return.
Ligament damage initially was feared by the Penguins.
“Right now, I'm just hoping it's not a severe injury,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
Dupuis, who also narrowly missed being cut near the face by one of Crosby's skate blades, will be re-evaluated by Penguins doctors in Pittsburgh, Bylsma said. He was not available for comment, per club policy on injured players.
The NHL begins a three-day Christmas break Tuesday. The Penguins (27-11-1, 55 points) enter it with the Eastern Conference's best record despite spending the past five weeks with no fewer than five regulars out of the lineup for every game.
Dupuis joins an injured group that includes center Evgeni Malkin, wingers Beau Bennett and Tanner Glass, and defensemen Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang.
“You might feel sorry for yourself if it happened in the playoffs,” winger Craig Adams said. “It's a lot to deal with, but there's no sense feeling sorry for yourself. We'll be fine.”
Added Bylsma: “I don't think shaking my head has helped.”
Glass, who is in his seventh NHL season, said he never has experienced an injury situation such as this one for the Penguins, who began Monday at first in the NHL with 200 man games lost to injury. The Penguins play at Carolina on Friday night.
They will look to get back on track after the Senators' snapped their seven-game winning streak and handed them only a third regulation loss on a 15-3-1 run since Nov. 16 — about when the injuries started piling up.
Centers Zack Smith and Kyle Turris, wingers Bobby Ryan and Cory Conacher and defenseman Erik Karlsson scored for the Senators.
The Penguins had not been shut out on the road since Feb. 1, 2012, a 1-0 loss at Toronto — a span of 57 games.
Crosby's 10-game point streak was halted by the Senators, and the Penguins' top-ranked power play went 0 for 7.
Dupuis, a 20-goal scorer each of the past two seasons, had scored a goal in four of nine games after marking only twice in 29 previous contests.
He played — albeit just a minute and 10 seconds — in a 238th consecutive game against the Senators. He has missed only two games dating to the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
Over those five years, he has emerged as a stable presence as the top-line right winger when Crosby is healthy and a trusted leader for a Penguins group that has gone long stretches without franchise pillars Crosby and Malkin.
His leadership role emerged when the Penguins played without Crosby and Malkin in the second half of the season three years ago. His importance to the Penguins has been cited by players and Ray Shero, who made Dupuis, 34, the oldest forward signed to a contract during his tenure as general manager.
“He's a big part of this team,” Adams said. “The big thing with him is consistency. He's there every night skating as hard as he can, doing all the right things no matter who's in the lineup.
“If he's out for a even a little bit, we'll miss him.”