Fleury (concussion) returns to practice

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returned to practice on Tuesday for the first time since being sidelined by a concussion earlier this month.

Fleury has missed Pittsburgh’s past six games since reporting concussion-like symptoms following a loss to Washington on Dec. 14.

He was a full participant in practice on Tuesday and facing shots for the first time since the diagnosis. Fleury said he was a little rusty, but said otherwise he felt pretty good. Coach Mike Sullivan called Fleury’s presence at practice “progress”, but declined to issue a timetable for Fleury’s return.

The Penguins are 2-4 without their top goaltender.

Defenseman Kris Letang also practiced on Tuesday. Letang was held out of a loss to Winnipeg on Sunday as a precaution after taking a shot to the head in a win over Minnesota last Saturday.

From bad to worse: Fleury may have a concussion (Updated: He does)

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Welcome to the struggle, Mike Sullivan.

The Penguins’ new coach delivered two bits of bad news this morning, following last night’s 4-1 loss to Washington.

First, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — arguably the number-one reason the Pens have managed to tread water this season — may have a concussion.

“He came to us last night and said he wasn’t feeling right,” Sullivan said. “He’s being tested but there’s a possibility it’s a concussion.”

Whatever the tests reveal, Fleury (13-10-2, .925 SV%) will not play tomorrow in Boston.

On top of that, Sullivan said that forward Beau Bennett will be out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury.

Bennett has five goals and five assists. His 10 points are good for seventh in team scoring.

Update:

GM Jim Rutherford confirmed to the Post-Gazette that Fleury does indeed have a concussion.

“I haven’t talked to the doctor yet. I don’t have any further information other than he was examined, and it was determined he was concussed,” said Rutherford. “At a minimum one to two weeks. You can’t put a timeline on these things though.”

The newspaper reports that goalie Matt Murray is likely to be recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Related: Penguins focused on cleaner breakouts

Marc-Andre Fleury laughs off being bloodied

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Let’s all say it together: “Hockey goalies are tough.”

Marc-Andre Fleury experienced a busy first period even before he was getting patched up. Those repairs were needed when Ben Lovejoy accidentally high-sticked his own goalie, which managed to get under his mask and cut him up.

Fleury missed a little bit of time getting repairs, forcing Jeff Zatkoff to make three saves.

Pittsburgh’s workhorse seemed fine, essentially laughing it off … while bleeding.

Yes, that’s hockey.

Video is likely to come.

Montreal’s goalie Mike Condon stood out himself, even if he didn’t get wounded.

The second period’s been one of frustration for the Penguins, including Kris Letang getting frazzled because of the hit Andrei Markov delivered leading into Brendan Gallagher‘s goal:

Fleury picks up Pens’ slack, thwarts Caps for win

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For all the talk about Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, tonight’s Penguins – Capitals game was all about the goalies.

Ultimately, Marc-Andre Fleury bested Braden Holtby (shown best with Holtby slamming his stick against the bench after Nick Bonino‘s impressive empty-netter), and Pittsburgh bested Washington 3-1 on Wednesday.

Fleury’s efforts generated some well-deserved praise from onlookers.

It was a physical, nasty game at times, with all the missed shots maybe indicating that the two teams could use a few breaks to create more offense.

This leaves Pittsburgh in a strange spot.

Sidney Crosby and much of the offense is sputtering, even with Phil Kessel looking strong. The power play is … abysmal.

That would seem to spell disaster, yet the Penguins are now winners of five of their last six games.

Maybe it’s all about the positive spin, then. If Pittsburgh can generate offense on a regular basis, then perhaps the Penguins will be a contender once again?

That’s up to debate, but either way, a series against the Capitals would probably be a lot of fun, right?

Hanifin stays in Carolina; Fleury heads back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Carolina Hurricanes have returned Haydn Fleury to the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.

The club also announced that they have assigned Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Brock McGinn, and Derek Ryan to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.

Fleury was selected seventh overall by the Hurricanes in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The 19-year-old scored six goals and 28 points in 63 games with Red Deer last season, and also added a goal in his only AHL contest with the Checkers.

The move means that Noah Hanifin will be sticking around.

The 18-year-old was the fifth overall selection in last June’s draft, and the ‘Canes must feel like he can contribute right away.

Hanifin had five goals, 23 points and plus-12 rating in his only season at Boston College.

The rookie skated on Carolina’s third pairing with Michal Jordan at practice earlier today.

They will enter the season with a young group of defensemen, as four of the team’s seven blueliners are 25-years-old or younger.