Penguins notebook: After missing 42 of the past 43 games with an injury, Beau Bennett returns
March 25, 2016 12:00 AM
The Penguins' Beau Bennett has suffered two long stints on the sideline with a shoulder injury.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
For a while there, it seemed Beau Bennett might never get back on the ice for the Penguins this season.
But after two long stints on the shelf dealing with a shoulder injury, Bennett cracked the roster Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils.
He played sparingly, getting just 5:30 of ice time in the 3-0 loss that snapped the Penguins six-game win streak.
“I felt good. It’s tough, guys are winning six in a row. You come back and we lose. You never want to break up any mojo that we have going,” said Bennett. “It was just a tough game to come back into. Personally I felt pretty good. My legs felt good. My shoulder is good.”
Bennett had missed 42 of the last 43 games and said after morning skate that he estimated he has been physically ready to get back on the ice for roughly a week.
“I think we just took a little more cautious approach this time around,” said Bennett. “I’ve probably been ready for maybe a week now. The longer I wait, the better I feel. I’ve been itching to get out there and help the guys and can’t wait until I can do that.”
Bennett was injured after a hit by Washington’s T.J. Oshie on Dec. 14, which coincided with coach Mike Sullivan’s first night behind the bench.
He came back in January, but his stay in the lineup was short-lived because he re-injured himself.
Bennett skated on the fourth line with center Eric Fehr and left winger Conor Sheary. Oskar Sundqvist was scratched to make room for Bennett in the lineup.
“He didn’t play a lot of minutes, part of that was by design. Part of that was because we were chasing the game,” said Sullivan. “I thought for his first game back after an extended time out like that, I thought he was pretty good.”
Dumoulin plays, too
Defensemen Brian Dumoulin returned to the ice as well after leaving the game Sunday against the Capitals with an undisclosed injury that turned out to be minor. “During the season, it’s good to have a few days off, be able to rest and get healthy,” said Dumoulin, who has played in all 73 games. “It felt good out here. I just want to be out there and help the team anywhere I can.”
Backing alma maters
Three different sets of Penguins players have a little something riding on hockey games this weekend. No, they’re not betting on the NHL, just wagering a little pride for their former college teams who open the NCAA hockey tournament this weekend.
Ian Cole and Bryan Rust went to Notre Dame, which tonight faces Michigan, a program whose alums include Carl Hagelin and the injured Kevin Porter. “I can confirm there is a wager on the table. I cannot confirm what said wager is or if it is monetary in value,” said Cole. “It could be purely embarrassment on the line. There is something out there.”
Matt Cullen, a former St. Cloud State standout, learned his team will be facing off against Ferris State in the first round tonight as well, a program that boasts Chris Kunitz as an alum. “We’ll talk about it now,” said Cullen. “That’s awesome.”
Tonight will also pit the former schools of stall neighbors Nick Bonino, whose alma mater is Boston University, and Bennett, who played for the University of Denver against one another. “We’ll pull for our alma maters here and, hopefully, BU wins,” said Bonino.
The four ironmen
Four Penguins have played in all 73 games: Dumoulin, Cullen, Phil Kessel, and Patric Hornqvist. They’re all very different players, but share a common trait: durability.
“Guys that are able to play each and every night it’s an indication of their durability, it’s an indication of their fitness level. There’s a lot of things involved,” said Sullivan. “You have to have some good fortune along the way because we play a hard game and sometimes you have to put yourself in harm’s way in order to win.
“I think there’s probably all of those things involved but, certainly, I think, for guys who have the ability to play in that many games it’s an indication of durability for sure.”
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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