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Penguins Almost Back to Full Strength; Simon Appears Ready, Wilson Demoted

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Dominik Simon Pittsburgh Penguins
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Dominik Simon (12) forechecks during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Arizona Coyotes on November 10, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins shutout the Coyotes 4-0. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

The Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly back to full health. In the past several weeks they have missed Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Dominik Simon, Matt Cullen, Derick Brassard, and Matt Murray. The injuries to Hornqvist and Simon especially left a hole in the Penguins lineup. It appears Simon is ready to rejoin the lineup.

Simon and Hornqvist were full participants in the morning skate, Wednesday in Washington before the Penguins played the Capitals. Hornqvist returned Wednesday and the Penguins beat Washington 2-1.

Thursday, the Penguins host the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota is three points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild card in the Western Conference, but Minnesota has two games in hand.

Simon, 24, has 13 points (4g, 9a) in 26 games this season. The second-year player has 27 points (8g, 19) in 64 career games.

To make room, the Penguins demoted grinding forward Garrett Wilson who has performed admirably in a fourth line role. Wilson, 28, has two assists in 14 games this season and is a +3. In 48 career games, Wilson has not yet scored his first NHL goal. He cleared waivers, Wednesday.

The Penguins only player on injured reserve will be Justin Schultz, who is out through February with a fractured leg.

The win propelled the Penguins into a third-place tie with the New York Islanders in the Metro Division, though New York has one game in hand and one more win. The Penguins have won three of their last four games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins final game before the NHL holiday break will be in Carolina, Saturday. The Penguins season will resume Thursday, Dec. 27 at home against the Detroit Red Wings.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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