Penguins’ Justin Schultz makes impact in return from broken leg
Justin Schultz’s return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup went off without a hitch Saturday afternoon.
Out since Oct. 13 with a broken leg, Schultz played about 17 minutes in a 5-4 loss to the Calgary Flames, skating on a pair with Jack Johnson and recording an assist on a first-period Jake Guentzel goal.
“Don’t remember being that nervous for a regular-season game before,” Schultz said. “It was good. The other guys helped me a lot, and now we’re back into it.”
On his first shift, Schultz popped open into the slot, took a pass from Evgeni Malkin and fired a shot on goal. Calgary’s Mike Smith prevented the fairy-tale conclusion with a quality blocker save.
“It was pretty nice to get a chance on my first shift and not be in our own end,” Schultz said. “He made a great pass. Too bad I couldn’t put it in.”
Later in the first period, Schultz took a pass from Nick Bjugstad at the top of the left faceoff circle and sent a shot on net that Guentzel tipped in with a waist-high deflection.
“I just laid it in there for him. He did the rest of the work,” Schultz said.
While Schultz worked to rehab his injury, the Penguins hoped his eventual return would help improve their breakout. After one game, reviews in that area were positive.
“I thought he was terrific,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “You can just see the impact he has, his ability to pass the puck. He sees the ice. He joins the rush. He’s active on the offensive blue line. He just helps our transition game. He helps us in so many ways. He’s a solid defenseman. I thought he made a big difference.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .