Before the Pittsburgh Penguins held their morning skate Thursday at PPG Paints Arena, injured top-six winger Bryan Rust worked out on the ice.
Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed it was Rust’s first time skating since he got hurt.
“It was a scheduled first day on the ice for him, which is encouraging,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, that’s a big step, to get him out there. We’ll see how he progresses along the way.”
Rust has missed the past five games because of an upper-body injury and is on injured reserve. He has been listed as being out week to week. His injury came after a strong start, 20 points, including 10 goals, in 22 games.
Also skating early was tryout forward Jesse Puljujarvi. Sullivan said injured forward Matt Nieto has not resumed skating.
The Penguins host the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night.
Those who participated in the optional game-day skate were forwards Radim Zohorna, Valtteri Puustinen, Jansen Harkins and Vinnie Hinostroza; defensemen Chad Ruhwedel, John Ludvig and P.O Joseph; and goalies Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic. Winger Reilly Smith skated just beforehand and then left, something he does often.
In something of a surprise, Nedeljkovic will get the start in net.
It will be Nedeljkovic’s second straight start, after he played Monday and made 27 saves in a 4-3 win over Minnesota. He also relieved Jarry Saturday during a 7-0 loss at Toronto.
It’s apparently a case of going with the hot hand.
“He’s won some games for us lately. We think he’s played extremely well,” Sullivan said of Nedeljkovic. “I think that weighs into a lot of the decision.
“But having said that, we have the utmost confidence in (Jarry) also. We think we’ve got two real capable guys. We’re going to keep them both involved here. We’re going to rely on both of them to help us win games. We just feel that it’s the right decision for this game (Thursday) to go back with Ned.”