Penguins notebook: Coach Mike Sullivan revamps lineup against Devils
March 7, 2016 12:00 AM
Mel Evans/Associated Press
New Jersey Devils right winger Jordin Tootoo fights with Penguins left winger Tom Sestito, who was called up from the AHL, in the first period Sunday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
NEWARK, N.J. — Coach Mike Sullivan didn’t balk at overhauling his lineup in the wake of the lackluster loss Saturday to Calgary at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins returned forward Josh Archibald, who made his NHL debut against the Flames, to their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, and called up forwards Tom Sestito and Conor Sheary from the Baby Penguins.
With left winger Carl Hagelin unavailable because he wasn’t feeling well, both were in the lineup for the Penguins’ 6-1 victory Sunday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
So was defenseman Justin Schultz, who was acquired from Edmonton eight days earlier.
He played with Ian Cole on the third pairing, logging 16 minutes, 23 seconds of ice time and earning an assist on the fifth goal.
“He played within himself,” Sullivan said. “You could see his mobility, his passing ability, his offensive instincts.
“When he was in our end zone, I thought he played fine. He was on the [correct] side of people, he has a good stick. … For his first game with us, we were really pleased.”
The Penguins opened a spot for Schultz by scratching Derrick Pouliot.
Sestito played just 4:52, but made the first goal possible when New Jersey’s Jordin Tootoo instigated a scuffle with him in the first period and picked up an extra minor.
“You could see the physical presence he brings to our team,” Sullivan said.
It was not immediately clear how long Sestito and Sheary will remain with the parent club, or how long Hagelin might be out, although Sullivan didn’t seem overly concerned.
“[Hagelin] went through the concussion protocol [Saturday], passed it, had no problems with it,” he said. “Woke up [Sunday] morning and didn’t feel well.
“No headaches, nothing like that. Nothing significant. Just didn’t feel right.”
Hynes praises call-ups
First-year Devils coach John Hynes spent the previous six seasons in Wilkes-Barre, so he’s familiar with most of the players the Penguins have summoned from there in recent months.
And he says he isn’t surprised that, for the most part, they have fit in nicely at this level.
“If you look at the players who have come up, when you look at [Tom] Kuhnhackl, [Scott] Wilson, Sheary, [Bryan] Rust, Pouliot, all those guys were hard workers,” Hynes said. They went through the process the right way.
“They went to the American League. They’re very good players. They have great work ethics and they always had NHL talent. They just needed to find ways to become consistent.
“I thought it was more a matter of time and opportunity than it was whether they were going to play [in the NHL] or not.”
Tom Kostopoulos, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s captain, earned a footnote Sunday in hockey history. He became the fourth player to appear in at least 600 games in both the National and American leagues.The others are Dave Creighton, former Penguins defenseman Jim Morrison and Shawn Thornton. Kostopoulos’ NHL totals include 10 goals and 16 assists in 79 games with the Penguins.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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