He arrived on time in a suit with a knit cap and headed straight for the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room. Shortly afterward, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed battle-scared winger Patric Hornqvist would return to the Penguins lineup on Saturday night against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena.
Hornqvist has not played since Nov. 30 against the St. Louis Blues. He was injured the following day at practice when he crashed into the boards.
This season, Hornqvist has played in only 20 of the Penguins 37 games. The Swedish winger has 11 points, including six goals. He will turn 33 on Jan 1.
Injuries have forced the Penguins coaches to mix-and-match the Penguins lines in Hornqvist’s absence. Captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby is out of the lineup, as is third-line center Nick Bjugstad.
The Penguins continue to be one of the most injured teams in the NHL, and according to ManGamesLost.com, the Penguins are the most seriously injured team when the significance of the injured players is factored.
Patric Hornqvist was a full participant in the team morning skate on Friday morning in Nashville, where he famously scored the 2017 Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 6. However, he skated on the extra line during the skate with assistant coach Mark Recchi and call-up Thomas Di Pauli.
Di Pauli was returned to the WBS Penguins of the AHL earlier on Saturday.
The Penguins face the Nashville Predators for the second time in two days. The Penguins handily beat Nashville 5-2 on Friday night. Five different Penguins scored goals and 14 players scored points in the win.
Goalie Matt Murray will start for the Penguins. For a full game preview, notes and the scouts in attendance, see the PHN pregame preview.