Penguins’ Olli Maatta on track to return vs. Predators |

Penguins’ Olli Maatta on track to return vs. Predators

Jonathan Bombulie
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) go for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla.

Olli Maatta’s status for Friday night’s game against the Nashville Predators will be a game-time decision.

Should he return to the lineup, Maatta would consider that a great and welcome luxury.

Out since suffering a shoulder injury Feb. 11, Maatta said he thinks getting in a few regular season games before the playoffs would help his recovery process immensely.

“I think it’s a big advantage if you do,” Maatta said. “You can do so much on the ice in practice, but when the game starts, it’s a different kind of stress and a different kind of fatigue that comes in. You have to get used to it.”

If Maatta makes his return Friday night, he will likely bump Zach Trotman from the lineup and play on a defense pair with Brian Dumoulin. The team’s other two pairs – Jack Johnson with Justin Schultz and Marcus Pettersson with Erik Gudbranson – remain unchanged.

The Penguins are 13-4-4, allowing an average of 2.62 goals per game, since Maatta left the lineup. He said he’s looking forward to joining the team’s defensive resurgence.

“I think we’re playing really good right now,” Maatta said. “Guys are playing hard, the whole lineup, first line to fourth line, all the D. We’re playing really good hockey. We have to keep that going. I think, for me, jump in there and do my thing and probably keep it simple at first, just try to get used to the game.”

Kris Letang, meanwhile, skated on his own before morning skate. It was the first time he was on the ice since being scratched for Monday’s game against the New York Rangers with an upper-body injury.

Evgeni Malkin (upper body) and Chad Ruhwedel (upper body) also skated Friday morning. Zach Aston-Reese (lower body) did not.

Matt Murray is expected to start in net for the Penguins.

The Predators announced Friday morning that goalie Troy Grosenick has been called up from Milwaukee of the AHL because Juuse Saros is ill. Pekka Rinne is 0-6-0 with a 5.15 goals-against average and .822 save percentage in his career at PPG Paints Arena.

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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