Penguins notebook: Defenseman Ben Lovejoy hurt against Lightning
February 21, 2016 12:00 AM
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy will miss today's game against the Buffalo Sabres due to an undisclosed injury.
By Seth Rorabaugh and Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy celebrated his 32nd birthday Saturday.
Chances are, his previous 31 birthdays were much more enjoyable.
Lovejoy left the Penguins’ 4-2 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:12 of the second period because of an undisclosed injury. He appeared to be in some discomfort as a result of a hit by Lightning right winger J.T. Brown and retreated to the dressing room. He left the ice without any assistance.
Coach Mike Sullivan described his ailment only as “upper body” and said he would not play in a road game today against the Buffalo Sabres.
“He’ll be evaluated on Monday and we’ll have a better idea where he’s at,” said Sullivan.
Letang gets rare penalty
Defenseman Kris Letang was given a rare illegal stick minor penalty at 11:54 of the third period. After losing his stick and battling with Lightning center Cedric Paquette in the neutral zone, Letang fell down and took Paquette’s stick. He recovered to his skates and skated toward his defensive zone for several seconds before play was halted and the penalty was called. The game was delayed as Letang protested the call to the point he was given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor.
Letang was succinct when asked what happened on the sequence.
“I didn’t like the call and I complained so they gave me the extra [penalty].”
Rule 10.3 of the NHL’s rule book states a player can not use an opponent’s stick but it doesn’t come into play that often.
Sullivan noted Letang’s frustration led to the unsportsmanlike conduct minor.
“It’s an emotional game out there,” Sullivan said. “And I think Kris felt as though he got his stick slashed out of his hand and he probably would have like the call there and he didn’t get it.”
Rookie scores 1st goal
Rookie right winger Tom Kuhnhackl netted his first career goal with a short-handed score at 5:35 of the second period. He stole a puck from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman at the Penguins’ right point, poked it to the neutral zone and lifted a backhanded breakaway shot by the glove hand of 6-foot-7 Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
“I saw on the [scouting report] that the last couple goals he gave up [were] glove-side high,” Kuhnhackl said. “So I tried to put it there.”
Bennett skates again
Several hours before the game, right winger Beau Bennett participated in a skating session along with other injured players including centers Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino and defenseman David Warosfsky. It is believed to be the first time Bennett has skated with any of his teammates since he aggravated a right shoulder injury Jan. 23. Bennett has missed 26 of the past 27 games due to the injury. Sullivan did not have an update on his status.
Plotnikov scratched again
Saturday marked seven games Sullivan used the same lineup.
It also marked the 17th straight game that left winger Sergei Plotnikov was a healthy scratch.
Sullivan said his Russian winger is handling it as well as possible.
“He’s been really good. He’s handled it in a professional manner. It’s a difficult circumstance for both of us,” said Sullivan. “But as I’ve said on a number of occasions. The decision that the coaching staff makes as far as the lineup is we’re trying to put the guys in the lineup that we think give us the best chance to win.”
Plotnikov played in 32 games this season, but just 10 since Sullivan was hired in December. He never produced a single goal and assisted only on two.
Seth Rorabaugh: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @emptynetters. Jenn Mendendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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