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Pens welcome soldier to practice at Mellon

| Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

Given the interest in the revolving door that is the Penguins' injury-riddled lineup, there is usually plenty of focus on the morning skate. All eyes on Thursday morning, however, were in the seats at Mellon Arena.

Army Sgt. Justin Lubash, a 23-year-old former hockey star at Serra Catholic High School, was recently wounded in Afghanistan. The Munhall native suffered serious arm, leg and head injuries and also lost a number of personal belongings during an ambush of American troops. Some of the items that were destroyed were Lubash's Sidney Crosby jersey and 2009 Stanley Cup Championship banner.

The Penguins made sure he didn't leave Mellon Arena empty-handed.

Crosby presented Lubash with a new jersey, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma presented him with a new Stanley Cup banner. The Penguins captain even gave Lubash and his son, Jackson, one of his sticks.

"It's been a blast," Lubash said. "They really helped out a lot. I didn't think a player would give away his game stick, the one he uses all the time, but he was able to give it to Jackson, which was a great thing to do."

Crosby and the Penguins were humbled by Lubash's story.

"It's pretty amazing," Crosby said. "We appreciate things like that."

» Penguins enforcer Eric Godard will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a groin injury.

» Bill Guerin and Max Talbot, both of whom have been dealing with injuries, returned to the lineup against the Senators.

» Forwards Chris Conner and Nick Johnson were recalled from Wilkes-Barre Scranton and played against Ottawa. Conner scored twice against the Rangers in New York Monday, and Johnson scored his first NHL goal last week against Washington.

» Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz skated for the first time Thursday since having abdominal surgery. He isn't expected back in the lineup for 1-2 weeks, which means he might not return until after the Olympic break.

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