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Penguins notebook: Zolnierczyk adds grit

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Harry Zolinierczyk plays against the Oilers on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Penguins/NHL Videos

By Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe
Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said earlier this week a third-line-style player likely would be recalled if forward Beau Bennett couldn't play against Edmonton on Tuesday.

He wasn't lying. There isn't an abundance of finesse in Harry Zolnierczyk's game, which is precisely what the Penguins like about him.

Zolnierczyk was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and immediately placed on the third line alongside center Brandon Sutter and left wing Dustin Jeffrey.

True to form, the former Flyers agitator found himself in a couple of scrums against the Oilers and was looking to deliver some punishment throughout.

“I know what my job is,” Zolnierczyk said. “I want to be able to create some energy out there.”

Zolnierczyk scored three goals in three games at the AHL this season.

“I want to be able to provide some offense, too,” he said. “It was good to get the call. I'm excited.”

Bennett's lower-body injury isn't believed to be a long-term concern. He is being listed as day-to-day.

Letang update

Up next for defenseman Kris Letang is participating in a full practice, Bylsma said Tuesday.

Letang has participated in two game-day practices and joined teammates for 30 minutes of a full practice Monday.

“For right now, it's just trying to feel comfortable out there,” Letang said, adding that resuming physical contact “was a good first test.”

“I mean, there was some discomfort, but I can go with it. We're going a day at a time.”

Letang was injured Sept. 27. There is no timetable for his return.

More injuries

Right winger James Neal (upper body) was placed on injured reserve. He has not practiced since leaving a game against New Jersey on Oct. 3. He remains week-to-week.

Neal was placed on long term injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 3, which means he is eligible to return to the lineup Oct. 28 in Raleigh.

Left winger Matt D'Agostini (lower body) also did not practice Tuesday. He is on track to practice next week, Bylsma said.

Long walk home

A voice of the Edmonton Oilers is from Meadville.

Jack Michaels, a broadcaster for the Oilers Radio Network, called his second NHL game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He joined the Oilers in 2010 after eight years calling minor league games in Alaska and Colorado.

Michaels said his career path started in the mid-1990s after meeting former Penguins broadcaster Matt McConnell.

“I was a football, basketball baseball guy like a lot of people,” Michaels said. “Matt said, ‘You know, not a lot of people can call hockey,' so I thought that might give me more opportunities.

“He was right.”

Pizza night

Bylsma was joined by right wing Pascal Dupuis, right wing Chuck Kobasew, left wing Jussi Jokinen, and defensemen Olli Maatta and Deryk Engelland in delivering pizzas to the student rush line a couple of hours before the Penguins hosted the Oilers.

Engelland was in the lineup ahead of defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.

Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Rossi at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib. Reach Yohe at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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