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Penguins

Patric Hornqvist practices, moves closer to returning to Penguins lineup

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, 1:27 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Penguins could get winger Patric Hornqvist back in the lineup as soon as Saturday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hornqvist started Friday’s practice in Cranberry in a white, no-contact jersey but switched to regular gear midway through and took part in contact drills without restrictions. Both he and coach Mike Sullivan said it’s possible he could play against the Flyers.

“It’s not a good feeling to sit out and watch them battle for getting points, but today I was back out there and I felt good,” Hornqvist said. “I’m moving in the right direction.”

Hornqvist was injured last Friday when he was slammed violently into the boards by Boston defenseman Kevan Miller while reaching for a puck in the offensive zone.

“It was just an awkward situation,” Hornqvist said. “The puck was in a perfect spot for him to take the body and I have to poke the puck. One of those situations you don’t see very often and you don’t know how to protect yourself. I have to do a better job protecting myself right there.”

It’s the third documented concussion for Hornqvist since the start of the 2016-17 season. Hornqvist said he has no concerns about his long-term mental health.

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s always the same way. I feel out of it for a few days and then come right back at it. I’m not worried about that.”

Hornqvist added that he wouldn’t consider returning to the lineup before he was fully recovered.

“For me, or for everyone with a concussion, you’re 100 percent or you’re not 100 percent,” Hornqvist said. “You can’t be, like, ‘Should I play the game or should I go in and battle?’ You have to be all in or you’re not in. This game is too fast and it’s too emotional and there’s too much contact to put your health on the line.”

Hornqvist skated on a line with Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin during Friday’s practice, but that combination could change by Saturday night if left wing Tanner Pearson is able to play. Pearson missed Friday’s practice for maintenance, Sullivan said.

Hornqvist was in good form before the injury, recording four goals and four assists in his previous four games.

The Penguins went 1 for 6 on the power play in Hornqvist’s absence. They also missed his presence in the locker room, Sullivan said.

“As we always talk about, he’s such an energetic guy,” Sullivan said. “He brings so much enthusiasm to practice or to the rink every day. His energy is just contagious out there. It’s great to have him back. I thought he had a good practice. The second half of the practice was full contact, full participation. We’ll see how he responds, but certainly that was encouraging.”

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Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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