ShareThis Page

Penguins notebook: Neal, Kunitz return to lineup

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 8:27 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Chris Kunitz after Kunitz's first-period goal against the Stars on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Chris Kunitz after Kunitz's first-period goal against the Stars on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Some familiar faces were back in the Penguins' lineup Tuesday.

Right wing James Neal (concussion) and left wing Chris Kunitz (leg injury) played against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday after missing two weekend games against Philadelphia.

Neal said he felt better over the weekend. After practicing with the Penguins on Monday and taking part in Tuesday's morning skate, he was cleared to play against his former team.

Neal was out three weeks late last season with a concussion.

He returned to his spot alongside center Evgeni Malkin and left wing Jussi Jokinen on the team's second line.

Kunitz was injured a week earlier when Washington defenseman Mike Green pulled him down while he was driving toward the net. Kunitz's leg slammed into the goalpost, forcing him to miss the two Philadelphia games.

Skating with no apparent problems against Dallas, Kunitz resumed his normal duties on the top line and top power play.

A couple of other injured players weren't ready to return to the lineup.

Right wing Beau Bennett, out since November with a broken wrist, continues to skate and is believed to be close to returning. Coach Dan Bylsma had said he wanted to see Bennett participate in a couple of full practices before he would be considered for a spot in the lineup.

Defensemen Kris Letang (stroke) and Paul Martin (broken hand) remain out of the lineup indefinitely.

No surprise

Tyler Seguin has found a starring role with Dallas.

Traded from Boston last summer, Seguin had 30 goals and 69 points before facing the Penguins.

He has centered Dallas' top line — a development that coach Lindy Ruff credited with helping Seguin develop into a top-level player in the league.

“His role here is different than with Boston: going back to the middle and his responsibilities down low,” Ruff said. “He's getting to play a lot of the time against teams' top line, and he's done a real nice job.

“He's got elite skill: skating skill, puck skill, stuff you can't teach. I knew that coming here. I just didn't know how he would handle the first year of being the guy playing in his own end and down low.”

Seguin, 22, was the second overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Boston acquired that selection in a trade with Toronto that sent winger Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs. Kessel and Seguin began Tuesday second and fourth in NHL scoring, respectively.

Olli being Olli

After having a difficult weekend against the Flyers, rookie defenseman Olli Maatta was back in strong form against Dallas.

Maatta, who played with a multitude of defense partners throughout the evening, finished with a team-high plus-3. He also led the Penguins with three blocked shots.

With one more goal, he will become the third member of the Penguins defense to have registered 10 goals this season. Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen have already notched 10 goals each.


Forward Jayson Megna, who scored a goal Sunday, was a healthy scratch Tuesday along with left win Taylor Pyatt and defenseman Deryk Engelland.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.