Chad Ruhwedel

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Same lineup expected for Pens, but Sens will have changes

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Plenty of injuries on both sides ahead of tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between Pittsburgh and Ottawa.

We’ll start with the Penguins, who seem likely to ice the same lineup they did Sunday. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed today that Justin Schultz, Chad Ruhwedel, Patric Hornqvist, and Tom Kuhnhackl remain out.

“Kuhnhackl, Ruhwedel and Hornqvist stayed back in Pittsburgh. They’re rehabbing back there,” said Sullivan. “Schultz is here in Ottawa with us. He is rehabbing as well, but he will not play tonight.”

As for the Senators, head coach Guy Boucher has some “warmup decisions” to make. Forward Ryan Dzingel will be back in. Forwards Chris Kelly and Colin White could be in, too, because Tommy Wingels and Alex Burrows are both out.

The question is whether the Sens go with seven defensemen again, or back to six. If it’s the latter, White could draw in.

White, 20, has not played in these playoffs, and he only played two NHL games in the regular season.  A Boston College product, he was the 21st overall pick in the 2015 draft. He only recently signed his entry-level contract with the Sens.

“I mean, he’s a guy who’s a really smart player,” said Boucher. “He’s got speed, lots of speed, a guy that drives the net, and he’s very reliable on both ends of the ice. That’s why we’re considering him.”

The Senators need to win tonight. If they don’t, the Penguins will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Bryan Rust returns to Penguins lineup; Schultz, Hornqvist remain out

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PITTSBURGH — After missing the past two games due to injury, Bryan Rust will be back in the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

He will replace forward Conor Sheary who will be coming out of the lineup to make room.

Rust will start the game skating on the third-line alongside Nick Bonino and Carter Rowney.

But while the Penguins are getting a little bit of help on the injury front with the return of Rust, forward Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz will remain out of the lineup.

Schultz took part in the pre-game warm-up but did not take any line rushes and returned to the locker room five minutes before anyone else. With Schultz and Chad Ruhwedel (injured in Game 4) out of the lineup that means Mark Streit will be in and skate alongside Ian Cole on the team’s third pairing.

Hornqvist did not take part in the pre-game warm-up.

As for the Senators, they will go with seven defensemen on Sunday with Ben Harpur drawing into the lineup.

Murray gets Game 5 start for Penguins; injured players game-time decisions

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PITTSBURGH — In what should be no surprise following his performance in Game 4 on Friday night, Matt Murray will be back in the starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon when they return home to face the Ottawa Senators, coach Mike Sullivan announced before the game.

Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup a year ago, opened the 2017 playoffs with an injury setting the stage for Marc-Andre Fleury to regain his starting job and carry the Penguins through the first two rounds. Even when Murray was healthy Fleury was playing far too well to be removed from the lineup. That changed in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals when Fleury gave up four goals in the first period and was replaced by Murray.

Murray went on to stop 19 of the 20 shots he faced that night, then stopped 24 out of 26 on Friday night.

In other lineup news for the Penguins, Sullivan also announced that forward Tom Kuhnhackl and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will be out of the lineup due to injury. Ruhwedel suffered a concussion on Friday night following a hit by Bobby Ryan.

Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz will all be game-time decisions.

All three players have missed the past two games for the Penguins. While they would like to have any of them back in the lineup, Schultz’s absence is the one they are probably feeling the most given the banged up state of the defense.

Penguins’ Sullivan considers Schultz Game 5 return ‘a possibility’

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It might not be wise to get your hopes up on this, but Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said that a Justin Schultz return is “a possibility” for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators.

Now, Sullivan didn’t give an indication about how strong that possibility is, so take that with a grain of salt.

During Saturday’s presser, he deemed Schultz, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust all “day-to-day.”

As you’re likely aware, “day-to-day” is a confusing designation even during the regular season. In the playoffs, it’s even more difficult to really gauge what such a reading means.

That said, with Sullivan confirming a concussion for Chad Ruhwedel last night, and the awful injury news for Ryan Johansen in the other series, vague optimism sure beats a direct and cold readout.

The Senators also have some injury situations to watch:

Game 5 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

NHL confirms dates for 2017 Stanley Cup Final

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Game dates for this year’s Stanley Cup Final have been set.

Plan accordingly.

Following Friday’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators, the league released the dates for the next round. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final goes May 29.

Here’s the complete list:

Of course, the teams that will compete next round for the Stanley Cup have yet to be determined.

The Penguins held on to defeat the Senators on Friday, tying the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Sunday.

The Penguins’ depth on defense has been tested throughout the playoffs due to a list of injuries. Chad Ruhwedel is the latest. He has a concussion, said coach Mike Sullivan, after a controversial hit into the boards from Bobby Ryan.

The dynamic of the Western Conference Final has shifted dramatically in the last 24 hours. The Anaheim Ducks evened the series at 2-2 with an overtime win Thursday. The Nashville Predators received more troubling news Friday, as center and leading scorer Ryan Johansen had emergency hip surgery and is done for the playoffs.

Game 5 of that series goes Saturday.