Coach Mike Sullivan offered some injury updates after the Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-4 tonight.
He said Kris Letang is out with an upper-body injury that is unrelated to his previous issues with concussions or a stroke.
Letang has been out since Feb. 21. He is not on the team’s current five-game road trip.
“There’s just so much speculation around Kris’ injury. What I will confirm is that it’s not a concussion. It’s not related to a stroke or anything of that nature. Kris has an upper-body injury,” Sullivan said. “He’s rehabbing the injury at home as we speak. We’re hopeful here that he’ll have a quick turnaround and we’ll get him back in the lineup. All of that speculation surrounding that other stuff, we’d rather confirm it’s not that.”
Patric Hornqvist, however, was sent home from the road trip after he was diagnosed with a concussion. Sullivan said he will undergo further evaluation. It’s his second concussion of the season.
— Evgeni Malkin had the Gordie Howe hat trick tonight, scoring twice, assisting on a Justin Schultz power-play goal and fighting Blake Wheeler after delivered a high, hard hit to the Jets captain in the last meeting between the teams.
Malkin is the fourth Penguins player since 1987 to record at least two goals, one assist and one fighting major in the same game. The other three are Paul Coffey (1/20/88), Rick Tocchet (11/17/92) and Brendan Morrow (4/17/13).
Evgeni Malkin vs Blake Wheeler from Pittsburgh Penguins at Winnipeg Jets Mar 8, 2017 https://t.co/98JBfmo7nJ
— hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) March 9, 2017
Malkin was pretty hilarious when discussing his fight.
“He asked me about a fight,” Malkin said. “I knew it was not a great hit last game at home. I respect this guy, his leadership. He’s a great player, a great hockey player. I’m ready. It’s not my greatest fight, but I respect this guy. It’s fine. Just a couple punches and I lost.”
— Nick Bonino broke out of a scoring slump with his second NHL hat trick. Before tonight, he had a total of three goals in his previous 30 games.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2017
After practice yesterday, Bonino and Sullivan had a long chat on the ice. After the game, Bonino revealed what they discussed. (Also hilarious.)
“Just talking about movies,” Bonino said. “I think it was Independence Day, talking about one versus two. He liked two better. I liked one.”
— Tom Sestito, called up earlier in the day, played three shifts. On the first, he fought Chris Thorburn. On the third, he boarded Tobias Enstrom and was thrown out of the game.
Sullivan offered an interesting assessment of Sestito after the game.
“He has the ability to create some anxiety,” Sullivan said. “He has the ability to give our players a certain comfort level when they’re on the ice.”
— From an AFTERMATH perspective, I think you can see from the hockeystats.ca chart that the Penguins had a pretty healthy advantage in shot attempts most of the game. Looking at these numbers, you could easily make a case that they fell behind 3-2 while Matt Murray was struggling, then pulled away once their goalie found his footing.
— Also, the Sheary-Crosby-Guentzel line had a massive night in terms of shot stats. When Crosby was on the ice at even strength, the Penguins had a 19-8 advantage in shot attempts. Guentzel (19-9) and Sheary (18-6) had similar numbers.
— I’m not on the Western Canada leg of the trip. I’ll pick it back up in Philly next week. In the meantime, I’ll make sure I update the blog just to keep the notes, quotes and highlights fresh.
Bye for now,