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Niskanen doesn't return after lower-body injury

Defenseman Matt Niskanen, shown here in action against Philadelphia, didn't play the final two periods of the 2-1 shootout victory against Ottawa on Sunday because of an unspecified lower-body injury that appeared to be his knee. File photo

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By Dejan Kovacevic
Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 5:28 p.m.
 

OTTAWA - Matt Niskanen, one of the Penguins' steadiest defensemen, didn't play the final two periods of the 2-1 shootout victory against Ottawa on Sunday because of an unspecified lower-body injury that appeared to be his knee.

He went knee-first - and hard - into the boards late in the first period after a trip by Ottawa's Milan Michalek. No penalty was called.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma offered no specifics on the nature or severity of the injury, saying only that Niskanen would be re-evaluated Monday in Pittsburgh.

• Tanner Glass, the Penguins' third-line left winger, stayed in the lineup against Ottawa despite an apparent injury to his left shoulder area. Glass was hurt sliding hard into the boards Wednesday in Winnipeg, but he returned and finished that game, then participated in the optional morning skate Sunday. Despite that, Bylsma called Glass "a game-time decision" just two hours before faceoff against the Senators. The team has not described the nature of Glass' injury. Had Glass not played, Dustin Jeffrey would have been Bylsma's choice to replace him. Because Glass stayed in the lineup, the Penguins still have not lost a man-game to injury. Last season they had 355.

• There were no other lineup changes, including defenseman Simon Despres being scratched a second consecutive game in favor of Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy hopes to find a way to stick with Deryk Engelland, his on-and-off partner of six years. "I think we've learned a lot about each other, and we've got a lot of experiences," Lovejoy said.

• The Senators were without right winger Daniel Alfredsson because of an illness. Alfredsson, 40, isn't the star he once was, but he has 62 points in as many career meetings with the Penguins.

• One of Bylsma's points of emphasis throughout the two-game trip that ended Sunday was tightening up the breakout. "Our focus is all five guys working it out of the zone, and that means all the way out," Bylsma said. "It's about nothing other than all five doing it together. We've missed on that at times, and it's something we'll continue to work on in practice and in games."

• It's not clear how the Penguins will break down their goaltending for the coming week, but early precedent suggests Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun will keep seeing action. Fleury reiterated he has no issue with that, saying of Vokoun, "I'm happy to have him here. He's been a great guy, a big help, giving me some tips, and I appreciate that. He's a guy who's been around for a long time, and it's been really good so far."

• Wherever the Penguins go, they are being asked about the epic fights of Glass and Engelland in the first two games. "We've got a new rule around here," right winger Matt Cooke said. "Minimum two minutes on all fights."

• The Penguins will have Monday off, Bylsma announced hours after the game Sunday. The team originally had been scheduled to practice.

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