Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils

Pens activate Fleury (concussion) from injured reserve

After missing eight games with a concussion, Marc-Andre Fleury has been activated off injured reserve.

The Penguins went 3-4-1 during Fleury’s absence.

The 31-year-old had a 13-10-2 record with a 2.29 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage before suffering the injury.

In a corresponding move, the Pens assigned goalie Matt Murray to the AHL.

The 21-year-old got his first taste of NHL action while Fleury was out and he didn’t look overwhelmed.

Murray had a 2-1-1 record with a 1.72 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage in four games with Pittsburgh. He didn’t allow more than two goals in any of his appearances.

The Penguins are three points behind New Jersey and Detroit for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

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.

Not what they needed: Jets place Scheifele on IR with concussion

Eight points back of a playoff spot, the Winnipeg Jets have been forced to place center Mark Scheifele on injured reserve with what they originally called an “upper-body injury.” In a related move, they’ve recalled forward Adam Lowry from AHL Manitoba.

Scheifele was hurt yesterday in practice. According to the Winnipeg Sun, his “head accidentally collided with teammate Andrew Ladd during a drill at MTS Centre. He was bleeding and looked woozy as a couple of teammates eventually escorted him off the ice.”

It’s a big loss for the struggling team. The 22-year-old has 12 goals and 10 assists, his 22 points good for fourth in team scoring.

Winnipeg went into the Christmas break with a 15-17-2 record and just two wins in its last six.

The Jets host Pittsburgh tonight and Detroit Tuesday, before embarking on a five-game road trip.

Update:

Jets coach Paul Maurice confirmed today that it’s a concussion:

Related: Here are the five most disappointing teams in the NHL

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

Amid concussion issues, veteran d-man Ballard retires

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After 10 years and over 600 games, longtime NHL defenseman Keith Ballard has officially announced his retirement.

Ballard, 33, is walking away from the game nearly one year after suffering three facial fractures — and what ended up being his last concussion — in a collision against the Isles on Dec. 9, 2014:

Ballard, who had a history of concussion issues prior to that incident, never played again following the Islanders game and has since re-enrolled as a student at the University of Minnesota, where he starred from 2001-04.

“I didn’t want to retire at this time, but with the bigger picture in mind, it was a no-brainer,” Ballard said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “You look at so many athletes and they struggle for so long and I don’t want that to be me.

“I want to live a healthy life, be there for my wife and kids.”

Ballard said he still experiences headaches, dizziness and fogginess, but explained the symptoms “aren’t bad like they were.”

Prior to finishing his career with the Wild, Ballard had spent time with the Coyotes, Panthers and Canucks. His most prolific season was in his rookie campaign, when he scored a career-high eight goals and 39 points.