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Penguins recall defenseman Zach Trotman with Matt Hunwick out

| Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, 1:24 p.m.
Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman will be the seventh defenseman while Matt Hunwick is out.
Penguins defenseman Zach Trotman will be the seventh defenseman while Matt Hunwick is out.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — The Penguins called up an extra defenseman Thursday, promoting Zach Trotman from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while Matt Hunwick is out with a concussion.

Trotman, 27, is a 6-foot-3 right-handed shot with 67 career NHL games to his credit. He had two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the Baby Pens this season.

Hunwick was diagnosed with a concussion Tuesday. Coach Mike Sullivan did not have an update on Hunwick's condition.

With Ian Cole back in the lineup and Chad Ruhwedel in for Hunwick, Trotman is expected to act as the team's seventh defenseman.

Niemi excited for next opportunity

There is a good chance Antti Niemi will start his third game of the season this weekend since the Penguins play back-to-back games Friday at Florida and Saturday at Tampa Bay.

The veteran goalie said he's ready.

“I'm always excited for the next game,” Niemi said. “It's more about your own focus and focusing in practice every day.”

In his first season with the Penguins, Niemi is gaining familiarity with his defensemen.

“I think it's getting better, getting to know all the D-men,” Niemi said. “How they play and where they stand on the ice.”

Niemi and fellow goaltender Matt Murray are forging a relationship, too.

“He's awesome,” Murray said of Niemi. “When you're the only two (goalies) on the team, you have a special bond. You know what the other guy is going through.”

Homecoming for McKegg

Third-line center Greg McKegg played parts of the past two seasons with the Panthers, so Friday marks a return to Sunrise.

“Really enjoyed my time here,” McKegg said. “It's always cool to come back. Still a few friends here. It's an awesome place to be.”

McKegg, who scored his first goal with the Penguins when Florida visited Oct. 14, said the transition to his new team has been smooth.

“The guys here have made it pretty easy,” McKegg said.

Kuhnhackl shines on PK

During the second period of Tuesday's 5-4 overtime win at the Rangers, the Penguins trailed 3-2 and faced a lengthy five-on-three penalty kill.

Tom Kuhnhackl was on the ice for the first 1 minute, 18 seconds of the kill, and he helped keep the Penguins within a goal.

“Tommy's a real good penalty killer. He's so brave. He's willing to block shots. He has good awareness away from the puck,” Sullivan said. “You look at the five-on-three penalty kill in the last (Rangers) game. It was such a huge part of the game for us and helping us climb back into that game. In my mind, it was a big turning point.”

Defense trying to tighten up

The Penguins have given up a league-high 29 goals through seven games. However, Sullivan said the defense has improved since the 10-1 loss to Chicago.

“I think they're skewed a little bit with the Chicago game,” Sullivan said of the stat. “We're working on cutting down the quality of the chances over the last handful of games.”

Ian Cole agreed but knows there is more work ahead.

“I always think there is room for improvement,” he said. “We've had some good games. Obviously, we lost 10-1, so that's obviously not ideal.”

Tribune-Review staff writer Jonathan Bombulie contributed. Steve Evans is a freelance writer.

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