The mumps outbreak continued to wreak havoc on the Penguins today, as the club sent three players — Steve Downie, Brandon Sutter and Thomas Greiss — back to Pittsburgh to be tested for the illness.
Pittsburgh is scheduled to play Florida tonight in Sunrise.
The Penguins’ issues with the mumps are well-documented. Captain Sidney Crosby, defenseman Olli Maatta and forward Beau Bennett have been diagnosed with the virus while the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury and Roberto Bortuzzo have been cleared after negative test results.
(It’s interesting to note that Greiss is going for a second round of testing after getting a negative result on Friday. There’s also no word yet on who Pittsburgh will dress as Fleury’s backup tonight against the Panthers.)
So Jeff Zatkoff will back up Fleury tonight, and the Pens will likely dress Taylor Chorney on defense and either Rob Klinkhammer or Craig Adams at forward. All three were scratched on Saturday.
Things got ugly during Pittsburgh’s 3-1 win over Florida on the weekend at Consol — the two teams combined for 76 penalty minutes — and that’s set the stage for tonight’s rematch in Sunrise.
“They started off pretty hard and were firing pucks and finishing every hit,” Sidney Crosby said of Florida’s spirited effort, per the Herald. “Both teams got into it pretty early.”
The ugliest incident of the game came late in the first period, when Willie Mitchell lost the plot during a scrap with Pens defenseman Kris Letang and hit Letang with his own helmet:
Surprisingly, Mitchell wasn’t ejected from the contest and, perhaps even more surprisingly, has yet to be disciplined by the NHL (no suspension nor fine to date.)
The Mitchell-Letang fracas wasn’t the only feud played out on Saturday, though. Jussi Jokinen got into it with Evgeni Malkin, and Dave Bolland got a pretty healthy slash in on Sidney Crosby.
“We’re lucky we get to play them again on Monday,” defenseman Erik Gudbranson told the Herald. “We have to find a way to win.”
Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Florida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell sparred late in the first period of tonight’s game. As officials stepped in to try and break up the fight, Mitchell grabbed Letang’s helmet off the ice and attempted to hit the Penguins defenseman with it.
You can see that below:
That’s not the only incident in what’s turned into a heated game between these two squads. Sidney Crosby briefly left the contest after being slashed on the hand by Dave Bolland, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe.
Steve Downie was fuming in the first period and got vocal with the Panthers’ bench. He later fought Erik Gudbranson, which earned Downie a 10-minute misconduct.
Pittsburgh had a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes with all three goals coming in the first 7:31 minutes of the contest. In the 32:29 minutes that followed, the teams accumulated a collective 68 penalty minutes.
Olli Maatta’s season has been a medical nightmare.
Just six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid tumor, the Pittsburgh defenseman has been confirmed to have contracted the mumps, the club announced on Friday.
Maatta, 20, is the third Penguin to come down with the illness in recent weeks. Captain Sidney Crosby and forward Beau Bennett have also had it, with a number of other players tested (also on Friday, the Pens confirmed goaltender Thomas Greiss and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo tested negative.)
It’s unclear how much time Maatta will miss while quarantined. Crosby sat out three games before returning for last night’s win over Colorado; following the aforementioned surgery, Maatta was only sidelined for two weeks before returning to play.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby will return to the lineup tonight when the Pens take on the Avs at Consol, the team has announced:
Crosby’s missed the last three games with the mumps, during which the Pens have gone 2-0-1. No. 87 heads into tonight’s game looking to snap a seven-game goalless drought, though that’s not to say he hasn’t been productive; Crosby has 35 points through 27 games this year and is one back of Philly’s Claude Giroux for the NHL assist lead (27).