The Pittsburgh Penguins can probably say their good injury fortune has officially run out.
Defenseman Olli Maatta underwent surgery to repair a hand injury he suffered against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. He will be out of the lineup for six weeks according to NHL.com.
In the same game, Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz took a hit from behind, which crunched his head into the glass. There’s no official word on Schultz yet, but Pittsburgh recalled both defensemen Steven Oleksy and Cameron Gaunce from the AHL on Friday.
The hit delivered on Schultz was questionable at best, and the hit on Maatta was a little late. Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Lowry are the potential offenders, but neither hit was penalized.
The frustration of no penalties called on those hits, playing half of the game with four defenseman and blowing a two-goal lead boiled over for Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who delivered an illegal hit, leaving his skates and knocking into the head of Blake Wheeler, in the middle of the third period. Malkin received two minors – one for interference and another for roughing due to the scrum that ensued.
It will be interesting to see if the NHL Department of Safety will take any action against Byfuglien, Lowry or Malkin. Wheeler left the game to be evaluated for a concussion, but he returned to the ice almost immediately. That fact, along with Maatta and Schultz being out, will certainly be a factor.
Olesky has played nine games with the Penguins this season. He has one assist and 22 penalty minutes. Gaunce has appeared in three games and has two assists.
Schultz is one of just four Penguins who have played in every game this season, but it seems unlikely he will suit up for Friday’s game versus Columbus. Maatta has one goal and seven points with a plus-16 rating in 53 games during 2016-17.
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