The Pittsburgh Penguins defense might not be as thin as feared Friday when the Winnipeg Jets visit PPG Paints Arena.
Defenseman Jan Rutta, who did not practice Thursday because of a maintenance day, was on the ice Friday for an optional morning skate.
“It was nice to get a day off,” Rutta said. “I feel like I regained some juice.”
Also on the ice was defenseman Taylor Fedun, who was recalled Thursday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Penguins are without defensemen Kris Letang (injury and bereavement leave) and Jeff Petry (injury).
Petry, injured forward Ryan Poehling and injured goaltender Tristan Jarry worked out on the ice Friday before the morning skate. Injured forward Josh Archibald did not skate with either group. Coach Mike Sullivan said all injured players are status quo.
The optional morning skate featured just seven players: forwards Evgeni Malkin and Drew O’Connor, defensemen Fedun, Rutta and Ty Smith, and goaltenders Casey DeSmith and Dustin Tokarski.
Tokarski will start against the Jets, Sullivan said. The Penguins are heading into back-to-back games, so this gives Tokarski the chance to start at home, with presumably DeSmith set to start Saturday at Carolina. Tokarski relieved DeSmith in the first period Tuesday against Vancouver and picked up the win in a Penguins comeback. This will be Tokarski’s first start with the Penguins.