Winger Kennedy has clearance to practice
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DALLAS -- Right winger Tyler Kennedy, recovering from a high ankle sprain, has been cleared for practice and joined the Penguins for their game-day skate Wednesday.
Kennedy missed his 10th game in a row when the Penguins played the Stars at American Airlines Center after being hurt Feb. 5 in a game at New Jersey. He and fellow forwards Sidney Crosby and Dustin Jeffrey remained on the ice after the skate for a session of rigorous skating.
Jeffrey was a healthy scratch for the third time in the past four games. Crosby is recovering from a neck injury and concussion symptoms.
Coach Dan Bylsma pointed out that, unlike Kennedy, Crosby has not been cleared for contact and full practice, but joined the team for the non-contact workout because he would rather not skate alone.
It might have been a two-for-one-deal, but it appears the Penguins and Dallas swung a trade in February 2011 that worked for both clubs.
"I think this is how trades are supposed to work for teams that have needs in certain areas," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said of the swap that brought winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Penguins for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Neal, a top-line winger who recently signed a six-year extension, entered the game with 30 goals. Niskanen has become a steady regular.
Goligoski is thriving, which means the trade also was a success for Dallas.
Because of a glut of talent on defense with the Penguins, Goligoski wasn't able to secure the prominent role he has with the Stars.
"I'm playing a little more minutes and [more] against top lines, getting more of a chance on power plays, penalty kills," he said. "It was a good trade for me personally."
Going into the game, Goligoski, 26, led the Stars with an average ice time of 22 minutes, 39 seconds and led the team's defensemen with 26 points, including eight goals, two on the power play. He had a plus-minus rating of plus-six over his previous six games and was plus or even in eight of his previous nine games.
His production has risen since he signed a four-year, $18.4 million contract extension Jan. 23.
"Ever since he got his deal done here, he's been tremendous for us," Gulutzan said. "The last month he's been a force for us offensively."
Goligoski's only speed bump this season came in his first game against the team that drafted him in the second round in 2004. He left a 3-1 loss to the Penguins Nov. 11 at Consol Energy Center because of a broken hand that forced him to miss 11 games.
"The guys involved in the trade have gone on and done well," Goligoski said. "From the teams' perspective, I think, yeah, there can be two winners in trades."
The previous time the Penguins played in Dallas, they performed poorly in a fight-filled, 5-3 loss, Nov. 3, 2010.
One of the fights was between unlikely opponents Crosby and Niskanen, a bout Crosby won decisively. Now teammates, they staged a re-creation of their bout at the pregame skate.
"We revisited the scene of the crime and re-enacted it," Bylsma said. "There were some differences of opinion in how everything went down."
The only Penguins player who missed the morning skate was goaltender Brent Johnson, who has an undisclosed injury. Rookie Brad Thiessen backed up starter Marc-Andre Fleury. ... Winger Arron Asham returned after missing one game because of an undisclosed injury. ... The Penguins March 18 game at Philadelphia has been picked up by NBC and will start at 12:30 p.m.
First Published March 1, 2012 12:00 am