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Penguins notebook: Bylsma says Despres' play Saturday 'real good'

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Sunday, March 3, 2013, 6:48 p.m.

If positive reviews count for anything, rookie defenseman Simon Despres can count on playing against Tampa Bay on Monday night.

After missing two games as a healthy scratch, Despres played at Montreal on Saturday and recorded an assist and plus-2 rating.

“Real good, maybe his best game,” coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday after a practice at Southpointe Iceoplex.

“You saw it in every area of his game. Defending, his ability to get out of trouble after breaking up a play, move the puck — he did all those things on the last play, (center Brandon Sutter's winning) goal. The consistency in his game is where he can improve. But certainly he played a pretty good game (Saturday) night.”

• Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to start against Tampa Bay. Fleury didn't play at Montreal — about an hour by car from his hometown of Sorel, Quebec — on Saturday, a decision that still did not sit well with him a day later. Bylsma described Fleury's play of late as “excellent” after a practice Sunday. Bylsma also reiterated that Tomas Vokoun, the No. 2 goalie, had been scheduled to play against the Canadiens for “a couple of weeks.”

• The Lightning practiced after the Penguins on Sunday, and left winger Ryan Malone looked strong. Malone, an Upper St. Clair native whose Penguins tenure ended in June 2008, has not played since Feb. 7, because of a lower-body injury. He is unlikely to play against the Penguins but should return this week.

• Sami Salo, who Lightning coach Guy Boucher described as “probably our best defenseman,” should play against the Penguins, Boucher said. He has not played since Tuesday, also because of a lower-body injury.

• Lightning center Steven Stamkos began Sunday second in the NHL with 32 points. He said he had never heard of Mario Lemieux's philosophy during the Penguins' majority co-owner's playing days — that the Art Ross Trophy means more than the Hart Memorial Trophy because members of the media don't vote on scoring championships. “I don't think I'm in a position to say something like that,” Stamkos said after laughing.

—Rob Rossi

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