Cranberry Twp, Pa — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to Penguins practice Sunday morning as a full participant. Letang was not in a non-contact sweater to begin practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Letang was also first up as the Penguins practiced their four-on-four game.
Letang, 32, has not played since being injured on Nov. 4 in Boston. Both he and Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist were injured in that game. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed this week Letang was skating on his own. Sunday was the first time he joined the team.
“It was fun to get back on the ice with the guys. I was getting lonely out there,” Letang joked. “It’s fun to be out there at practice. Get the motion, get back into the rhythm.”
The Penguins top defenseman has lived up to his billing this season. In 15 games, Letang has 12 points, including four goals. He also averages 25:00 minutes per game. The team has replaced his minutes by committee, including with rookie John Marino on the top pairing.
The Penguins power play recently came to life with four goals in their last 11 chances but had gone nearly 30 attempts without a goal. Letang figures to resume his work as the point on the Penguins power play as defenseman Justin Schultz is still out longer term.
Letang admitted his recovery is well ahead of schedule and signs pointed to him being available on Monday. Letang has been skating for more than an hour per day on his own before rejoining the team on Sunday.
“Yeah. I still did not discuss it with the medical staff or the coaches. It just felt great at practice.”
Kris Letang Return
With Letang’s return, Marino resumed his pairing with Jack Johnson. Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, and Zach Trotman are the extra defensemen. One will dress Monday night when the Penguins host the struggling Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena. Trotman skated with Marcus Pettersson at practice.
PHN will update the story after practice as head coach Mike Sullivan and perhaps Kris Letang confirms his status.
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