Patric Hornqvist joins Penguins lineup at home vs. Ducks
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks at PPG Paints Arena. He left Tuesday’s 4-1 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets after the first period when he suffered an undisclosed injury as a result of being struck by a shot from teammate Kris Letang.
His return buoyed a team already dealing with a group of injury-ravaged forwards. Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust are on injured reserve because of undisclosed ailments.
Marino gets his shot
Veteran defenseman Erik Gudbranson was scratched in favor of rookie defenseman John Marino.
Acquired at the trade deadline last season from the Vancouver Canucks, Gudbranson has the 10th-largest salary cap hit on the team at $4 million.
During Tuesday’s loss to the Jets, Gudbranson was beaten by Winnipeg forward Mark Scheifele in a one-on-one battle leading to Scheifele setting up his team’s first goal by rookie defenseman Ville Heinola in the first period.
In three games, Gudbranson had no points. He was scratched along with defensemen Juuso Riikola and Chad Ruhwedel.
Pair of debuts
Forwards Andrew Agozzino and Adam Johnson each made their season debuts. Johnson was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, and Agozzino was recalled Monday.
Johnson, 25, appeared in six NHL games last season and recorded two assists. That prior experience in the NHL has made this recall slightly more routine.
“A little bit,” said Johnson, an undrafted free agent. “I’m a little less nervous than I was last year coming in. It’s a little bit more comfortable now. I’m really excited to help this team get a win.”
Agozzino, 28, made his Penguins debut after signing as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. Before Tuesday, he had 21 career NHL games on his resume, all with the Colorado Avalanche over three seasons.
He began this season as the No. 1 center with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and in effect, the organization’s No. 5 center. He agreed a two-year two-way contract with the Penguins this summer after sensing a better chance to see time in the NHL than he experienced with Colorado.
“It’s tough to gauge that so early in the summer, but I definitely thought there was some opportunity here,” Agozzino said. “The organization kind of fits the style that I play. It was exciting for me to have a different set of eyes on me and move to the Eastern Conference, a new organization. Kind of a fresh start.”
The Penguins avoided an even worse defeat against the Jets on Tuesday by issuing a coach’s challenge on a would-be goal late in the second period that would have made it a 5-1 deficit. They challenged the play on the basis of the sequence being offside and were successful.
Coach Mike Sullivan and staff, namely video coach Andy Saucier, are still adjusting to the NHL’s rule changes that could result in a bench penalty for unsuccessful challenges. Previously, teams lost a timeout for failed challenges.
“The hardest one for me is goalie interference because there is so much ambiguity to what is actually goalie interference,” Sullivan said. “If something is close, it makes it real difficult for a coaching staff to challenge now. It’s one thing to lose a timeout. It’s another thing to get a two-minute minor penalty, and now you put your opponent on the power play right after they score.
“That’s something that we’ve talked about. We’ve defined a criteria on what we’re going to challenge for and when. We’re all on same page on how we go about that process, but that criteria has changed based on the rules.”
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .