Kunitz, Penguins returning to full health
A miserable month-long stretch ended Saturday for Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz, who played last night against the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena for the first time since Nov. 12.
Winger Eric Godard was scratched to make room for Kunitz, who had missed 13 consecutive games with a lower-body injury. Kunitz opened by playing with his regular linemates — center Sidney Crosby and right wing Bill Guerin.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said before the game that Kunitz had "ramped up his skating and battle (level)" during recent practices, adding that his injury "continued to respond."
Kunitz's return afforded Bylsma his first opportunity to choose from a full complement of forwards. The Penguins opened the season with Max Talbot on the long-term injury list, and he missed 21 games while recovering from offseason surgery to his left shoulder.
With 22 players on the roster, counting Godard and extra defenseman Martin Skoula, the Penguins are about $900,000 under the NHL's $56.8 million salary cap.
Too much Flower
Brent Johnson started in goal for the Penguins, marking only his second appearance at home since Nov. 14, when he stopped 28 shots in a win over the Boston Bruins.
The decision to rest top goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was not easy for Bylsma. Fleury was 7-1-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .917 save percentage dating to Nov. 21.
"There are 82 games, and (Fleury) is probably on pace to play one or two more games than we had scheduled for him to play," Bylsma said.
Fleury was on target for 65 appearances. His career high is 67 from three years ago, when he set a personal mark with 40 victories.
Around the boards
The Penguins will not practice today because of the previously scheduled team holiday party. ... Center Jordan Staal is slated to move into a tie for third place on the franchise's list of consecutive games played on Tuesday against Philadelphia. Teammate Evgeni Malkin owns that spot with 254 straight games played from 2006-2009.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Penguins GM Rutherford: Malkin’s play belies fact he missed training camp
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet wants Letang to shoot more on power play
- Penguins notebook: After slow start, penalty kill on upswing
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Penguins’ defenseman Maatta confident of full recovery
- Penguins notebook: Bennett close to returning
- Penguins notebook: Jagr still an impact player in 23rd season
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Penguins notebook: Team celebrates ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ event
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet marvels at Maatta’s demeanor