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Penguins notebook: Division games matter in goalie schedule

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 7:09 p.m.
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Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff warms up prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Oct. 11, 2013, in Sunrise, Fla.

Dan Bylsma knows when he wants backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff to play.

He just would not directly say it on Thursday.

“Sometimes the second goalie gets saddled with back-to-back games in difficult places,” Bylsma said.

The Penguins face the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center on Friday night. They play at Toronto — a “Hockey Night in Canada”-televised game against the Maple Leafs — on Saturday night.

Bylsma did not identify which of his goalies would play when after a Penguins' practice at Southpointe Iceoplex on Thursday, but he did strongly hint starter Marc-Andre Fleury would play against New York.

“Yes, a division game against the Islanders would be weighted more than a conference team we play at Toronto,” Bylsma said.

The Islanders chased Fleury from the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, but Bylsma said that would not factor into his goaltending decision.

After their back-to-back games on the weekend, the Penguins will play at Carolina — like the Islanders a Metropolitan Division foe — on Monday night.

Fleury has started eight of nine games. He is 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

Zatkoff has not played since losing his first NHL start at Florida on Oct. 11. He allowed six goals on 30 shots.

Next up

The Penguins re-assigned forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and Chris Conner to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday. Zolnierczyk (three games) and Conner (two) each failed to record a point in during their time with the Penguins.

Center Jayson Megna, 23, could make his NHL debut Friday night. He was promoted from the AHL Penguins and practiced Thursday.

Megna, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., had scored three goals and recorded five points in six AHL games.

“They like my compete (level), how I can skate, they way I can create off the rush,” Megna said of the message Penguins coaches delivered upon his arrival Thursday.

Ready to go

Winger Matt D'Agostini is another player on the long-term injury list, but he is eligible to play at Toronto on Saturday night.

D'Agostini (lower body) was injured in the second week of training camp. He has ratcheted up his workouts in addition to practicing with teammates over the last week.

Signed as a free agent in the offseason, D'Agostini still is viewed by Penguins coaches as a potential scoring contributor on the third line.

Partially because of injuries — Bennett has missed five consecutive games — Penguins' third-liners are without a goal over the last seven games.

“Especially with a new team you want to come in and prove yourself, contribute right away,” D'Agostini said. “Obviously that hasn't happened. It has been tough mentally, but I've been trying to keep myself composed and mentally ready.”

Injury update

Right wingers James Neal (upper body) and Beau Bennett (lower body) did not practice for the Penguins on Thursday.

Neal is out at least another week and is on the long-term injury list. A player of that designation must miss at least 10 games and 24 days.

Bennett was placed on injured reserve Thursday. That designation is retroactive to Oct. 12, and Bennett can return to play immediately.

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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