Kris Letang goes on injured reserve for Penguins

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Two of the Penguins' key players were hurt in a 1-0 win Tuesday against Montreal, but it appears they do not have long-term injuries.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Wednesday that defenseman Kris Letang will be out 7-10 days because of an unspecified injury. He was placed on injured reserve.

No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is still being evaluated for what might be a neck injury, Bylsma said, but he has not been ruled out as far as serving as Tomas Vokoun's backup tonight when the Winnipeg Jets visit Consol Energy Center.

"He's continuing to get evaluated," Bylsma said of Fleury. "I don't have a lot more information -- or any more information."

Fleury was hurt in the final minute of the second period against the Canadiens when teammate Tyler Kennedy collided with Montreal's Brian Gionta and fell or was pushed into his goalie. It appeared that Kennedy hit Fleury in the head, bending his neck.

Trainer Chris Stewart went on to the ice to attend to Fleury, who remained in the game for the final 49.2 seconds of the period but did not return for the third.

Fleury got credit for his league-leading 18th win, and the Penguins earned a "team" shutout after Vokoun played in the third period. Bylsma said he expects to have more information about Fleury today and that Vokoun was scheduled to start tonight even before Fleury got hurt.

Letang missed the three games before Tuesday night because of a leg issue, believed to be a groin injury. Bylsma said his latest problem is something separate, not an aggravation of the previous injury.

It might have happened as early as Letang's first shift Tuesday. Toward the end of that shift, he seemed to favor his left leg, turning on just his right skate. At one point, he motioned to the bench before skating off.

Letang played the rest of the game, logging 24 minutes, 20 seconds, a little less than his average ice time of 25:32.

RDS, a French-language Canadian network, reported Letang has a broken toe.

More shuffling on defense

The Penguins made two other moves with defensemen, sending Robert Bortuzzo to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment and recalling Simon Despres.

Bortuzzo, 24, has played in just 11 NHL games this season, none since Feb. 28. Because he is on a conditioning assignment, Bortuzzo did not have to clear waivers, but he does still count against the Penguins' 23-man roster.

"He has an opportunity to play three games starting [Wednesday] night and then Friday and Saturday," Bylsma said. "He will be recalled."

Despres, a rookie, has played in 24 of the Penguins' 35 games. He was assigned to Wilkes-Barre Tuesday to make room for Letang. With Letang back on injured reserve, there was room to recall Despres, who practiced Wednesday with the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

If not for Letang's new injury, Despres was expected to have been recalled next week when rosters can be expanded in conjunction with the Wednesday NHL trade deadline.

Taking attendance

The Penguins had what looked like an optional practice, although Bylsma said, "It was a maintenance day for several players who were not on the ice."

Penguins executive Jim Britt put on pads and filled in for Fleury. Others who did not practice were forwards Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Matt Cooke and Sidney Crosby, and defenseman Brooks Orpik.

One player at practice was center Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the past nine games because of what is believed to be a shoulder injury. He is still considered day-to-day, Bylsma said.

Assistant coaches Todd Reirden and Tony Granato ran practice. Bylsma watched some of it from the stands in street clothes, joined for a time by general manager Ray Shero.

Asked if he had a problem that induced him to take a maintenance day, Bylsma said, "Possibly, but that's just old age."

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First Published March 28, 2013 4:45 AM


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