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Penguins notebook: Fans embrace Staal's return to Consol

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 8:51 p.m.

Jordan Staal wanted to salute Penguins fans. He did Saturday night.

After a video tribute that included highlights of his most significant moments during a six-year Penguins career, Staal stood on the Hurricanes bench, clapped his red gloves together and waived his stick to a crowd that offered him a standing ovation.

Staal had not played at Consol Energy Center since his trade to Carolina last summer.

He had hoped for a positive reaction from the crowd but conceded he was unsure if his previous popularity here had carried over because fans probably thought he forced his trade.

Staal declined a 10-year offer worth about $57 million. The Penguins traded him on Day 1 of the NHL Entry Draft.

The package for Staal included center Brandon Sutter. Staal joined a Carolina club captained by his oldest brother, Eric. Jordan Staal signed a 10-year, $60 million contract with the Hurricanes last summer.

Staal was general manager Ray Shero's first draft pick in 2006.

Staal said he will play for Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship because Carolina did not qualify for the postseason.

Injury updated

Sidney Crosby had an individual workout and took part in an optional morning practice Saturday.

He missed a 12th straight game and is not cleared for contact.

There remains no timetable for his return. He has not played since March 30 because of broken jaw.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower-body injury) missed a second straight game and remains day-to-day, coach Dan Bylsma said. Center Joe Vitale (lower body) had an individual workout before the game, Bylsma said.

The playoffs begin Tuesday, though the Penguins likely will open Wednesday because the Black Keys play at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night.

Return game

Defenseman Paul Martin (broken left thumb) and right winger James Neal (concussion) played against Carolina. Martin had missed 12 in a row. Neal had not played in eight prior contests.

Right winger Tyler Kennedy dressed for a second straight game after serving as healthy scratch in a home loss to Buffalo on Tuesday. Kennedy is in competition with several players — including rookie right winger Beau Bennett, who did not dress against Carolina — for regular duty in the playoffs.

Flower child

Marc-Andre Fleury is finally a father.

Estelle Fleury was born Friday, and she checked in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces.

Her dad did not practice Friday, and Marc-Andre Fleury was pleased that his wife, Veronique, did not need to induce labor, as she would have Saturday had Estelle not been born.

The Fleurys were married last summer, though they had been together for nearly a decade. This is their first child.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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