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(UPDATED) Penguins Practice: Jarry Closer to Rejoining Lineup



ANAHEIM, Calif. — Tristan Jarry, who has missed the past four games because of an unspecified injury, took another step toward getting back on active duty Thursday, when he was involved in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 50-minute practice at Honda Center

Defenseman Jan Rutta, who also has been injured, participated in the practice, too.

Coach Mike Sullivan, though, suggested that neither is likely to be in the lineup when the Penguins face Anaheim Friday at 10:08 p.m. at Honda Center.

“I still don’t have a specific time frame (for Jarry to dress for a game),” Sullivan said, subsequently adding that the same applies to Rutta.

Jarry shared the workload in one net with Dustin Tokarski, while Casey DeSmith manned the other by himself. Jarry also was held out of the special-teams drills at the end of practice.

“Obviously, I was in a limited capacity today,” Jarry said. “It’s just good to be out there with the guys.”

Sullivan said, “we tried to control the environment that he was (in) out there,” but said there still were some positives to be taken from Jarry’s on-ice session.

“He did get some reactionary stuff, and that’s an important part of his return-to-play process,” Sullivan said. “We’ll take each day as it comes, but it’s certainly encouraging that he’s participating with the group.”

If Jarry does not dress for the Anaheim game, it will be the 12th time in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ past 14 games that he has had to sit out because of an injury.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “You want to be out there as much as you can. … It kind of (stinks), having to watch.”

Letang surging

Kris Letang, who has scored two overtime game-winners in the past four games, has played well since returning to the lineup after an extended absence.

And his overall game appears to be on an upward trajectory.

“His fitness level is always off the charts, but it’s hard to simulate game intensity,” Sullivan said. “The only way to get that is through playing, and I think he’s a guy who, in particular, the more he plays, I think the better he gets.

“With each game he’s playing, his timing is better, his execution is better, his decision-making is better. And his conditioning, quite honestly. I think they’re related. When (Letang) is at the top of his conditioning level — which is a high bar — I think it sets him up for success.”

He also noted that the coaches have to resist the urge to rein in Letang at times when he is inclined to improvise.

“He’s such an instinctive player,” Sullivan said. “He has an element of … I don’t know. He’s ‘rogue’ sometimes. He’ll go off the grid, but that’s part of what makes him what he is. We don’t want to discourage that because I think that’s what makes (Letang) elite.

“That’s where his partner is really important. When he’s active offensively and gets involved deep in the offensive zone, I think it makes us a more dangerous team. We just have to do it judiciously, so we’re not playing a high-risk game, where we’re giving our opponents every bit as good of opportunities as we’re getting.”

Full house

With Jarry and Rutta back at practice, everyone on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ major-league roster was healthy enough to take part in full-team workouts for the first time in quite a while.

What’s more, none of them wore a no-contact jersey.

“It’s great,” Sullivan said. “It’s been a struggle here to try to stay healthy the last few months. We’re getting some guys back in our lineup, slowly but surely, and hopefully, we can put players in the positions that we envisioned them to be in.

“When we have a healthy lineup, I think we’re a pretty competitive hockey team. Hopefully, we can stay healthy, and as we get these guys back, we’ll see what we’ve got, but we’re certainly encouraged.”

Personnel combinations

The Pittsburgh Penguins stuck with the same forward combinations and defense pairings that they used in their 2-1 overtime victory against Colorado Tuesday:










No. 1 power play: Crosby, Letang, Malkin, Rakell, Guentzel

No. 2 power play: Zucker, Carter, Rust, Petry, Kapanen

Metro mania

The New York Rangers acquired winger Vladimir Tarasenko from St Louis Thursday.

Last week, the New York Islanders got all-star center Bo Horvat from Vancouver.

The Metropolitan Division playoff race, which already was rather furious, figures to get even more heated as the stretch drive nears, although Sullivan said that’s not unusual.

“It’s been a pretty competitive division in my whole tenure in Pittsburgh, for the most part,” he said. “It’s a deep division. There’s a lot of good teams. We’re trying to focus on the group we have here and trying to maximize the opportunity in front of us, but certainly, without a doubt, I think it’s one of the more competitive divisions in the league. It has been, in my mind, for a while.”