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.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are dealing with yet another injury on defense.
Chad Ruhwedel left Friday’s Game 4 against the Ottawa Senators after getting hit into the boards by Bobby Ryan. The hit occurred in the final minute of the first period. Ruhwedel didn’t return and Pittsburgh played the rest of the game with five defensemen.
Following his team’s 3-2 victory to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece, head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Ruhwedel has a concussion and will be evaluated when the team returns to Pittsburgh.
Sullivan also didn’t want to offer his opinion of the hit, which officials didn’t penalize.
“It’s not my job to evaluate how the call was made or not made,” said Sullivan. “You know, the referees are going to see it the way they see it, and they do the best job they can. We’re just going to play the game.”
The Penguins have been without Kris Letang for the entire post-season, and Justin Schultz has missed the last two games of this series due to injury. In Game 3, Trevor Daley returned to the lineup, as Pittsburgh went with seven defensemen, including Ruhwedel and Mark Streit.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a new starting goalie between the pipes, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll have any new skaters tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa.
Defenseman Justin Schultz, along with forwards Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist, are not ready to return to action, according to Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. All three remain day-to-day with upper-body injuries.
Sullivan also said that Tom Kuhnhackl won’t be in the lineup tonight. It was thought that Kuhnhackl might play Wednesday in Game 3, but the Penguins went with seven defensemen instead, with Mark Streit picking up an assist on Sidney Crosby‘s power-play goal.
The Penguins lost Game 3 by four goals, falling 5-1 to the Sens.
Whether the Pens go with seven defenseman again tonight will be a game-time decision, Sullivan said.
The Senators lead the Penguins, 2-1, in the series.
Related: No real surprise Penguins are trailing Senators
One can debate how voluntary the decision really is, but it turns out the Pittsburgh Penguins are dressing seven defensemen in Game 3, as expected.
Mark Streit and Trevor Daley are drawing into the mix for the Penguins, who lost Justin Schultz to an awkward fall into the boards against the Ottawa Senators in Game 2.
Pittsburgh essentially rolls with the same forwards they deployed for most of that 1-0 win, as Dion Phaneuf‘s big hit on Bryan Rust limited them to 11 forwards for almost the entire contest.
Mike Sullivan said all the right things about Streit, yet the way he’s used him, it might actually be more important that Daley can play.
Meanwhile, Viktor Stalberg replaces Tommy Wingels in Ottawa’s lineup. Stalberg had missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.
There’s reason to believe the Pittsburgh Penguins may go with seven defensemen in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final tonight at Ottawa.
Justin Schultz will not be one of those seven, after getting hurt in Game 2.
But Trevor Daley was a possibility to return for Game 3, and at this morning’s skate he was paired with Olli Maatta. The other two pairs were Brian Dumoulin with Ron Hainsey and Chad Ruhwedel with Ian Cole.
Mark Streit, meanwhile, worked on the Penguins’ top power play, which is now minus Schultz. Streit has yet to make an appearance in these playoffs, but head coach Mike Sullivan hinted yesterday that that could change tonight.
“He’s a really savvy player,” Sullivan said. “I think he could help us on our power play. He could help us get out of our end zone. I think he’s got great puck skills.”
Read more: Penguins defense holding together, somehow
To make room for a seventh d-man, the Penguins wouldn’t have to scratch a forward. They simply wouldn’t insert a winger for Bryan Rust, who was also hurt in Game 2. Rust did not take line rushes this morning.
If the Penguins go with six defensemen, expect to see Tom Kuhnhackl enter the lineup.