The Hurricanes are slowly bringing back injured players, and it looks like tonight should see Brett Pesce’s return to the lineup.
Pesce was activated from the IR this morning and skated in morning practice with Jaccob Slavin in the top defensive pair. He’s been out since he sustained an upper body injury on Jan. 12 in a morning skate, and returned to the ice for the first time (as far as we know) in the morning skate prior to Saturday’s game against the Red Wings.
The defensive lines will shuffle quite a bit: Haydn Fleury will be back in action with Justin Faulk, Klas Dahlbeck will sit and Roland McKeown...well, he gone. McKeown was assigned to Charlotte yesterday to make room for Pesce.
Sebastian Aho remains out after being concussed and injuring his lower body from a hit by Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames before the bye week.
Cam Ward (12-5-2/2.75 GAA/.907 SV) is back in net after filling in for Darling against Vegas. Darling allowed three goal on eight shots, while Ward stopped 23 of 25 shots in cleanup duty. However, Ward is no clear savior for the Canes in goal—he is 1-3-0 in his last four starts.
(Also, remember that tonight’s game is on Fox Sports Southeast, so head in that direction tonight!)
Here are the lines from the morning skate, as reported by Michael Smith:
Teuvo Teravainen - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Brock McGinn - Victor Rask - Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Lee Stempniak
Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Phil Di Giuseppe
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and scratches: Josh Jooris (healthy), Klas Dahlbeck (healthy), Sebastian Aho (concussion/lower body).
The biggest question for Pittsburgh is the potential return of Matt Murray in net. He joined the Penguins on Monday after taking bereavement leave following the death of his father. If he starts, expect an emotional lead-up to the game, but it is highly unlikely as Casey DeSmith hasn’t been designated for assignment.
For now, we’ll list Tristan Jarry (9-4-2/2.44 GAA/.919 SV), who’s been a good backup for Murray as a whole but allowed four goals against the Ducks in his most recent start.
Bryan Rust is expected to return to action after missing 11 games with an upper body injury. Daniel Sprong, who was called up in replacement, was sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday afternoon, and Rust took full-body contact in Monday’s skate.
Rust’s presence will likely shake up the lines for Pittsburgh, according to Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette. Here’s what he surmises will happen:
Dominik Simon - Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Phil Kessel - Jake Guentzel - Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl - Riley Sheahan - Ryan Reaves
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Olli Maata - Justin Schultz
Matt Hunwick - Jamie Oleksiak
Injuries and scratches: Matt Murray (bereavement leave), Jean-Sebastian Dea (healthy), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), Carter Rowney (upper body).