Penguins notebook: Letang close to return, but no target date


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Kris Letang looks like he might be ready to get back in the Penguins lineup.

Sounds like it, too.

But Letang, who has yet to play this season because of an apparent knee injury, said Sunday he doesn't know when he will begin playing, at least in part because others will make that call.

"It's not my decision, anyway," he said. "It's the doctors'. It's all them."

He added that his conditioning "is not an issue," and that he wants to "feel comfortable" and "make sure I'm not taking any chances out there" when he gets into a game.

It is not clear whether he has a chance to play tonight when Colorado visits Consol Energy Center.

"Going through practices, evaluating how he does through the practices, has been a big part of his progression the last week," coach Dan Bylsma said.

"He's close. He's certainly done a lot on the ice, but through [Saturday], he wasn't at the point where we were 100 percent confident in him playing in a game."

Staying power

Hopewell native Nate Guenin, who previously played with Philadelphia, the Penguins, Columbus and Anaheim, has found steady work on Colorado's defense.

He is averaging more than 16 minutes of ice time per game, and received effusive praise from Avalanche coach Patrick Roy.

"He's been outstanding," Roy said. "I have just one word: Wow. He's played really well on the [penalty-kill], blocking shots. He understands his role.

"He forced us to put him in the lineup and put him in different kinds of situations, and he's been responding really well."

That doesn't mean Guenin, 30, is convinced he can settle in for a long-term stay with Colorado.

"I've been in other situations where everything was looking really good, and [then] you're back on the shuttle to the American League," he said.

"I don't think I'll ever get comfortable. Every day, I have to prove myself."

The Maatta show

Turns out that the crowd of 18,657 at Consol Energy Center and the local TV audiences here and in Vancouver weren't the only ones to witness Olli Maatta's first NHL goal Saturday.

His teammates -- or, perhaps, former teammates -- with London of the Ontario Hockey League caught it on their bus while traveling to a game in Windsor, and friends and family were able to see it because it was an afternoon game, which translated to an 8 p.m. start in his native Finland.

Maatta's goal tied the score, 3-3, in the third period, making it possible for the Penguins to pull out a 4-3 victory in a shootout.

He was given the puck he put behind Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, and said "it's going to go in my room. Somewhere safe."

Maatta added, though, that if his parents come to visit, "I'll give it to them and they can take it back home to Finland."

Tip-ins

Penguins center Sidney Crosby, San Jose's Patrick Marleau and Calgary's Jiri Hudler are the only players to record at least one point in each of their teams' games this season. ... Eleven players, including Letang and injured forward Matt D'Agostini, participated in an optional workout Sunday. The others were defensemen Deryk Engelland, Robert Bortuzzo and Maatta, forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Kobasew, Chris Conner, Craig Adams and Harry Zolnierczyk and goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Injured winger Beau Bennett skated on his own before practice.

penguins

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published October 20, 2013 8:00 PM


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