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Penguins notebook: Sheary, Wilson sent back to AHL before All-Star break

| Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, 12:09 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Conor Sheary plays against the Blue Jackets on Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at Consol Energy Center.
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Forward Scott Wilson was the Penguins’ fourth-line left wing in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series against the Rangers.

Because the Penguins are off for the next week during the All-Star break, forwards Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson on Wednesday were sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where the Baby Pens have three games left before the American Hockey League's all-star break.

The duo give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a greater scoring punch. Wilson's 20 goals lead the AHL. Sheary's 26 assists are a team high.

Coach Mike Sullivan lauded both wingers' efforts on the fourth line during a 2-0 win Tuesday over New Jersey. Wilson, called up Tuesday, received seven minutes of ice time in his fifth game of the season with the Penguins. Sheary skated for almost nine minutes in his 16th appearance.

Both were called up to bolster forward depth as Beau Bennett (upper body), Chris Kunitz (lower body) and Nick Bonino (hand) recover from injuries. Kunitz likely will return to action after the All-Star break, while the statuses of Bennett and Bonino are questionable.

Sullivan has encouraged Sheary and Wilson to identify what nonscoring skills are their strengths if they wish to stay with the Penguins, who return to action Feb. 2 against Ottawa.

“Some guys are real offensive guys at the American League level, and then they get to the National League level, and they might not be utilized in that capacity,” Sullivan said. “Trying to identify what your game is and how you can play at the NHL level and be effective is important for a young player.

“You have to have an element of defensive play and effort and being strong on the wall and the thankless jobs that I think allows a coaching staff to establish trust. And then from that, you can grow your game into other aspects, whether it be power-play time or moving up the lineup.”

True journeyman

Before he was traded to Anaheim in the Carl Hagelin deal Jan. 16, defenseman Adam Clendening was a healthy scratch for 28 of his 37 games with the Penguins. Clendening was relegated to the press box rather than be assigned to the minors because the Penguins figured he'd be claimed on waivers if they tried to send him down.

As it turns out, they probably were right.

Anaheim put Clendening on waivers Tuesday, and the Edmonton Oilers claimed him Wednesday.

The Oilers will be Clendening's fifth NHL team in the past year. He was traded by Chicago to Vancouver last January before joining the Penguins in the Brandon Sutter deal in July. He also played for Rockford, Utica and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL during that stretch.

Happy at home

The Penguins are 6-0-2 in their past eight home games. It's their longest regulation unbeaten streak at home since they won a franchise-record 13 in a row at Consol Energy Center from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15 during the 2013-14 season.

Feeling for Fleury

As much as they wanted to preserve Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout Tuesday, the Penguins found themselves willing to let a semi-harmless puck reach the goaltender, if only so Fleury could try to put a puck in an opponent's net for the first time in his pro career.

“I can't tell you how many times I've seen that puck go over my head,” Sidney Crosby said. “It's been so close. I remember one in Edmonton. I think he just missed the outside post. (Tuesday) was kind of the same thing. I thought it was going in, and the guy reaches back and steals it. Hopefully one day we see him get one. He's been all over it for a few years now.”

Staff writer Jonathan Bombulie contributed. Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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