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Penguins notebook: Players salute patient fans at Southpointe

| Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 8:52 p.m.

The Penguins had finished practice, but their desire to show appreciation to their fans was just beginning.

With an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 watching at the Iceoplex at Southpointe — and hundreds more watching from the Boulevard Pub & Kitchen — the Penguins skated to the glass and raised their sticks to the crowd. The gesture prompted the crowd to give the Penguins a standing ovation.

“It was incredible that they were all here,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “It's such an uplifting thing. It's really cool to go on the ice and to hear them screaming here at Southpointe.”

The Iceoplex seats were filled an hour before the Penguins were schedule to take the ice. Some fans were forced to park nearly half a mile away and walk to the building.

“It was exciting,” left wing Eric Tangradi said. “It was something special. They've taken it the hardest. It (the gesture) was the least we could do for them.”

Left wing Tanner Glass, a free-agent signing last summer, wasn't expecting the reception he received.

“It was especially nice seeing all those kids out there,” Glass said. “Those are the people who missed the game the most.”

• The mystery regarding who will play left wing on center Evgeni Malkin's line may have been revealed Sunday. Tangradi skated with center Dustin Jeffrey and right wing James Neal. Jeffrey will leave that spot when Malkin returns. Tangradi might not. “Eric Tangradi will be on the left, and James Neal will be on the right on (Monday),” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. Tangradi has just one goal in 41 NHL games but has never had an opportunity to play with Malkin or center Sidney Crosby. “I haven't been told,” Tangradi said. “Just to be on the roster is my goal, my focus.” Crosby is expected to skate this week with left wing Chris Kunitz and right wing Pascal Dupuis. Center Brandon Sutter will be skating with left wing Matt Cooke and right wing Tyler Kennedy.

• Malkin was the only player not skating at Southpointe. He has played in the KHL during the past four months and arrived from Russia on Sunday morning. Penguins general manager Ray Shero said that Malkin is in terrific shape and will participate in camp shortly.

• Shero has until 3 p.m. Friday to decide on his final roster. Shero said there is a possibility that the Penguins will keep eight defensemen on their roster. Bylsma rarely dresses more than six defensemen.

—Josh Yohe

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