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Is Tonight the Night? Sullivan: Zucker ‘Game Time Decision’

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Jason Zucker: Courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins

NEW YORK — The Pittsburgh Penguins lost one top-six forward when right winger Rickard Rakell was injured during Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series against the New York Rangers, but might get another back for Game 2 this evening.

After the Penguins’ optional game-day skate at Madison Square Garden, Coach Mike Sullivan labeled left winger Jason Zucker “a game-time decision” for Game 2, which is set for 7 p.m.

Zucker, who suffered an unspecified lower-body injury in the Penguins’ penultimate regular-season game, was one of nine guys who participated in that optional skate.

It is not clear how his return would affect the makeup of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward lines.

Zucker usually plays on the left side of the No. 2 line, which likely would put him alongside Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen tonight. That would free Danton Heinen, who can play either wing, to drop down to the third or fourth unit, probably to right wing on the third with Jeff Carter and Brock McGinn.

Injuries, including one that led to him undergoing core-muscle surgery, limited Zucker to 41 games during the regular season, during which he had eight goals and nine assists.

“As you can imagine, it’s been discouraging,” Sullivan said. “It’s been very frustrating for him. He’s a competitive guy, wants to be on the ice, wants to be around the team, wants to help the team win.

“He’s been dealt a tough hand this year, with respect to some of the injuries that he’s trying to battle through. He’s done a good job controlling what he can and he’s an important player for us.”

Pittsburgh Penguins Notes

*** Sullivan confirmed that Rakell and Casey DeSmith will not play tonight and that Tristan Jarry, who has a broken bone in his foot, has not yet gotten on the ice. At the very least, that suggests Jarry’s return is not imminent.

*** Domingue hasn’t been with the Penguins much this season, but he’s a familiar face to at least one teammate. Mike Matheson said Domingue was the goalie on one of his brother’s youth teams.

*** With the Penguins down to one goalie with NHL experience, it seems likely that the Rangers will be particularly aggressive about going to the net, and if that leads to contact with Domingue, well, so be it. Sullivan, though, declined to speculate on whether New York will take that approach. “That’s probably a better question for them,” he said.

*** In addition to Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin, Chad Ruhwedel, Marcus Pettersson, Mark Friedman, Nathan Beaulieu, Domingue and Alex D’Orio went on the ice for the skate.

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Dorothy Tecklenburg
Dorothy Tecklenburg
17 days ago

Yea!

Ethan
Ethan
16 days ago
Reply to  Dave Molinari

It is easy to speculate though, at this point, that Zucker may not be 100%. If he plays, I just hope–A I am wrong and therefore–B it is not at the expense of another player who is 100% so–C Guins finish the game with 12 forwards, 6 D and their starting goalie still in net! Sure would be nice to return home up 2-0!!!!

charmaine dawso
charmaine dawso
16 days ago

i so hope we see Zucker on the ice tonight and, Dave, that you are thinking he will indeed be playing

charmaine dawso
charmaine dawso
16 days ago
Reply to  Dave Molinari

thank you……looking forward to seeing the line-ups

Jeremy Ingland
Jeremy Ingland
16 days ago

Dave
Any more info on specifics for Rakell s injury ? Also how close is Beaulieu to making an appearance in this series ?

cspu81
cspu81
16 days ago
Reply to  Dave Molinari

I agree that it’s a risk Dave, but that’s also what makes them professional hockey players. It sure would be nice to have another guy on the ice that isn’t afraid to lay the body when he’s out there!

William Maloni
William Maloni
16 days ago

All I want is an early Christmas present, the Miracle at MSG. 2.0.

Last edited 16 days ago by William Maloni
DaGama
DaGama
16 days ago
Reply to  William Maloni

Seconded!

Mark Miller
Mark Miller
16 days ago

Dave, welcome to the site followed you at the other one. Your insight is 99% always right. Well wishes and let’s go PENS

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
16 days ago

So who is taking Dumoulin’s spot?

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