For once, the Pittsburgh Penguins received good injury news for Game One of a playoff series. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Zach Aston-Reese returned for Game 1, Round One against the New York Islanders, Wednesday at the Nassau County Coliseum.
To make room for Dumoulin, the Penguins made a slightly surprising move by scratching stalwart defenseman Jack Johnson, who played all 82 games during the regular season and delivered more hits than any Penguins defenseman in over a decade. Johnson is also a prolific playoff performer, with 21 points (5g, 16a) in just 23 games.
The Penguins moved more mobile defenseman Olli Maatta to the left side of Justin Schultz. Johnson had played with Schultz almost exclusively since Shultz’ return in February.
Aston-Reese, 24, also returned to the lineup for the first time since March 10. Rookie Teddy Blueger, who has looked much better at center than left wing, was scratched. Blueger had played left wing on the Penguins fourth line with Matt Cullen. Aston-Reese took that spot, but could see time on higher lines as he did throughout the season after his recall from the WBS Penguins.
The Penguins finished third in the Metro Division with 100 points, and the Islanders finished second with 103. The Penguins have made the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons.