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Sullivan Says Aston-Reese Could be Out



Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08: Florida Panthers Winger Colton Sceviour (7) and Pittsburgh Penguins Left Wing Zach Aston-Reese (46) fight during the third period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Florida Panthers on January 8, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Florida Panthers 5-1 Tuesday night. Penguins fourth line winger Zach Aston-Reese also beat Florida defenseman Colton Sceviour in a fight early in the third period. Aston-Reese was not hit but landed a pair of flush right hands to Sceviour’s temple.

Aston-Reese unlikely suffered a head injury, but more likely a hand or wrist injury. The fight was only the third NHL fight of Aston-Reese’s career.

The fight occurred nearly six minutes into the third period after Aston-Reese served a two minute minor for interference after a late hit on Florida forward Frank Vatrano. Not long after the penalty expired, Aston-Reese had to answer for the physical play.

After the fight, Aston-Reese took only a very short shift late in the third period.

Also Tuesday night, Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist was again hit in the head by a puck. He went straight to the locker room and did not return. Sullivan was unable to offer an update on Hornqvist though his admission that Aston-Reese could be out was in part a tacit acknowledgment that Hornqvist was not seriously injured.

“My sense is (Aston-Reese) might be out for a little bit,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “But I don’t have anything definitive right now with either one of them.”

The Penguins rarely divulge injury information and the admission lends credence to something more serious than scraped knuckles.

Aston-Reese was demoted to the Penguins AHL affiliate to begin the year but has been a force on the Penguins fourth line and penalty kill. In 29 games this season, the formerly undrafted college free agent from Northeastern has 11 points (6g, 5a), including four points in his last six games.

The game devolved into chippiness in the third period as the Penguins had a three, then four-goal lead.

“We were just trying to play the game hard,” said Sullivan. “Zach had a physical game. He was finishing checks and that’s when he’s at his best.”

The Penguins will embark on a five-game west coast road trip beginning Friday in Anaheim.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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