Penguins’ Mike Sullivan `hopeful’ of Olli Maatta’s return Friday |

Penguins’ Mike Sullivan `hopeful’ of Olli Maatta’s return Friday

Jerry DiPaola
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta and Panthers left wing Mike Hoffman go for the puck during the third period Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, who’s been out with a shoulder injury since Feb. 11, is getting stronger at the right time and could return Friday night against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena.

Maatta practiced with his teammates and without restrictions Tuesday afternoon in Cranberry. Coach Mike Sullivan said, “we’re hopeful” Maatta can play Friday.

“At this point, he’s day-to-day and will more than likely be a game-time decision,” he said.

Maatta was careful not to make any promises, but he said, “I felt good out there (Tuesday).

“I hope I come back soon, but these things, you don’t want to rush it,” he said. “Make sure when you come back you’re 100 percent, so there’s no risk of re-injury.”

The Penguins’ nine victories in the past 13 games give Maatta no reason to return too soon.

“I think the results are speaking for themselves,” he said. “I know we had a couple of overtime losses, but even those games, we deserved more.”

He said it would be ideal to return before the playoffs. Friday’s game will be the first of five in nine days to end the regular season.

“It will be an advantage to definitely get a couple of games in before the playoffs, but we’ll talk with these guys and make sure everything is good to go,” Maatta said.

In other injury news, Evgeni Malkin and Chad Ruhwedel skated before practice with skills coach Ty Hennes.

“They’re progressing,” Sullivan said.

Defenseman Kris Letang, who didn’t play Monday with an upper-body injury, is “status quo,” according to his coach.

Letang was out from Feb. 23 until March 19 with an upper-body injury, but he played Thursday in Nashville and Saturday in Dallas.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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