The Penguins got some tangible evidence of injured players making strides before and at practice Monday.
Defenseman Paul Martin (undisclosed injury) and forwards Richard Park (broken foot) and Dustin Jeffrey (setback from knee surgery) skated before the team did at Southpointe.
Martin and Park were in full uniform, Jeffrey in a warm-up suit.
Park stayed out for about the first half of practice, but he's not the closest to playing. That would be Martin.
"He probably won't be available for us [tonight against Carolina], but he should be getting close to getting back to practice," coach Dan Bylsma said of Martin. "Hopefully, we'll get him [back] before the first of the year."
That would mean Thursday against Philadelphia or Saturday at New Jersey.
Martin has missed three games, Park, seven, and Jeffrey played in just six games before coming out of the lineup the first week of November.
Monday marked two weeks since Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby said he was having symptoms associated with a concussion but was upbeat because he felt much better than when he was diagnosed with a concussion in January.
Monday also marked a month since defenseman Kris Letang got leveled by Montreal's Max Pacioretty , leaving him with a concussion.
Neither apparently is skating yet.
Asked for an update and specifically whether the two are still experiencing symptoms, Bylsma said only, "No update."
With an assist Friday in the 4-1 win at Winnipeg, Steve Sullivan hit career point No. 700, which he called "a nice number."
He has another one in mind, though. He would like to reach 1,000 games.
"With longevity, I've been lucky enough to put some numbers up," said Sullivan, 37, who has 272 goals, 428 assists in 925 games.
"Being able to put four digits after your name in games played -- you don't realize how many guys play in the NHL so many years and don't have that. It's a lot more difficult to get to than I thought."
Sullivan already would have hit 1,000 if he had not had a major back injury that forced him to miss 142 consecutive games, including the 2007-08 season. About the time he was coming back, then-teammate Jason Arnott of Nashville was celebrated for reaching his 1,000th game.
That was when he and Arnott realized it was a relatively elite club. Just 267 NHL players have made it to 1,000. Sullivan will make it next season, barring injury and assuming he gets a contract with the Penguins or elsewhere after this season.
"It's on the bucket list," Sullivan said.
Coming off of the NHL's two-day Christmas break, the Penguins pushed practice back to 4 p.m. so players could travel. ... Bylsma went back to work a little earlier than he had do. "I was getting antsy. ... [Monday] morning I had to start working, just to get me doing something," he said. ... The Penguins will wear their blue alternate uniforms tonight against the Hurricanes. ... Going into a game Monday at home against New Jersey, Carolina coach Kirk Muller was mum about his starting goaltender for tonight. Cam Ward played against the Devils, his eighth start in a row with backup Brian Boucher injured.