By Shelly Anderson
Paul Martin has missed the past 23 games because of a broken leg. This Penguins defenseman does not want that to stretch to 24.
“I’ll talk to the trainers and see if I can get in there [tonight],” Martin said of a game against the Florida Panthers at Consol Energy Center.
He could very well have company.
Winger James Neal, who has missed one game because of an unspecified injury, said he feels good and has no lingering issues. Of playing tonight, he said, “I hope so.”
Martin, Neal and injured wingers Jayson Megna (leg) and Chuck Kobasew (unspecified) practiced Sunday for a second day in a row, and again were used in customary roles. Any or all could play tonight.
Martin, who got hurt Nov. 25 on a blocked shot, said getting through a rigorous, 90-minute practice Saturday was what put him over the top.
“I felt a lot better [Sunday],” he said. “I think practice [Saturday] was a good gauge. It was a long, tough practice. There weren’t any effects from [Saturday]. I felt good [Sunday].
“I’ve felt comfortable for a while now with the injury. It’s felt pretty good. I haven’t had any issues. It’s more just timing and getting back into the flow of the game, and the only way to do that is to get into a game. I’m sure there will be some rust. Just keep it simple, short shifts, and go from there.”
Zatkoff takes a shot
Penguins backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff left the ice as the team was warming up for practice after taking a shot to the head. He returned a few minutes later, just as the formal part of the session was starting.
The puck not only dented the cage portion of his mask, but also “a piece of the puck chipped and just caught me in the eye, so they wanted to check my vision and make sure everything was OK,” he said.
“Everything’s fine. It was more precautionary.”
Pyatt’s take on mayhem
Penguins winger Taylor Pyatt had a multifaceted response when he saw the strategy and antics used Saturday night by Vancouver coach John Tortorella in the Canucks’ 3-2 shootout win against visiting Calgary.
When Flames coach Bob Hartley posted a starting lineup that included his fourth line, Tortorella responded by starting Vancouver’s fourth line. Two seconds into the game, a line brawl broke out. By the end of the first period, there were 188 penalty minutes assessed and eight players had been ejected.
In the first intermission, Tortorella attempted to go to the Flames dressing room, apparently to confront Hartley, but was restrained. Tortorella has an in-person hearing with the NHL today and faces a potential fine or suspension.
“I was just watching the highlights before practice,” said Pyatt, who played for Tortorella when both were with the New York Rangers.
“I don’t think I’m surprised. I got a pretty good chuckle watching it. Sort of a situation that got out of hand with the starting lineup.
“He’s a fiery guy, and he’s going to stick up for his players and do what he thinks is right. But I definitely got a pretty good laugh watching it.”
The Penguins have won eight home games in a row against Florida, with five of those contests being decided beyond regulation. It’s their second-longest home winning streak against one opponent. They have won 13 home games in a row against Winnipeg. … For the second day in a row, injured wingers Beau Bennett, Andrew Ebbett and Brian Gibbons skated before practice with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar. … Florida forward Jesse Winchester is expected to return after missing 14 games because of a hand injury. … Two Panthers prospects with local roots — center Vincent Trocheck of Upper St. Clair and goaltender Michael Houser of Wexford — were involved in a car accident Saturday on their way to a game with San Antonio of the American Hockey League. Neither was seriously injured.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.