The Pittsburgh Penguins injury woes worsened again on Tuesday morning when head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed winger Zach Aston-Reese would be out week to week with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Aston-Reese left the game against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday sometime in the second period. Details have not been available, but Aston-Reese has been a fixture on the Penguins grind line with center Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev.
This season, Zach Aston-Reese has 13 points, including six goals in 57 games. In recent seasons, injuries have closely followed Aston-Reese scoring streaks. The 6-foot 205-pound winger in his third professional season snapped a 14 game scoring drought on Friday with an empty-net goal to clinch the win over Montreal. Ironically, Aston-Reese’s last goal was on Jan. 4, also against Montreal.
“He just brings a conscientious game. He’s strong, he’s stiff in the battle areas, he’s good on the wall,” Sullivan said of Aston-Reese. “He’s good at the net front. He brings a physical dimension to that line.”
Patric Hornqvist took Aston-Reese’s spot on the Penguins grind line during the rare morning skate. Hornqvist had three points and was originally thought to have a hat trick until league scorers in Toronto reversed the official scorer in Pittsburgh. The league awarded one of Hornqvist’s goals to Sam Lafferty and also removed an assist for Hornqvist, which reduced him to a three-point day (2g, 1a).
“Patric Hornqvist is a guy who has similar attributes. He’s big and strong. I think Patric might have a little more finish offensively. That’s the reason we put him there.”
Some good news, Penguins winger Dominik Kahun will be a game-time decision. Kahun has been out with a concussion but was a full participant in the morning skate on Tuesday. Kahun practiced in a non-contact sweater last week. A team source told PHN Kahun hoped to be ready for Sunday against Detroit, but his recovery was a few days behind his hoped schedule.
Kahun, 24, last played on Jan. 19 against Boston. In 48 games this season, Kahun has 27 points, including 10 goals. Kahun would offer the Penguins fourth line some scoring punch while being eased into the lineup on Tuesday night against the high-powered, but struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Penguins host Toronto on Tuesday as part of their season-long four-game homestand.