By: Josh Taylor, KDKA-TV Sports
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Penguins’ right winger Phil Kessel was back on the ice at practice Wednesday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.
Kessel sat out Tuesday’s practice for a maintenance day, per head coach Mike Sullivan.
Kessel has been dealing with a lower body injury since the Penguins’ win over the Montreal Canadiens on March 31. When the injury occurred is unclear, but he took a slash from the Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk in his left side.
Despite the injury, Kessel played in his 690th consecutive NHL game Sunday night against the Washington Capitals, making it the ninth-longest “ironman” streak in NHL history. He logged 18:28 of ice time and had three shots.
Sullivan says players throughout the league have varying levels of injuries they are willing to play through, depending on the circumstances. But he also says Kessel’s situation is pretty clear.
“If Phil is healthy to play, he’s going to play,” Sullivan said earlier this week. “If he’s not, he won’t.”
Forwards Derick Brassard and Carter Rowney were the only two players who missed practice Wednesday. Brassard, who was acquired in a trade from the Ottawa Senators in late Feburary, has missed the past three games with a lower body injury, and Sullivan says Brassard is progressing toward practicing again.
The Penguins play Thursday night in Columbus against the Blue Jackets in a game that will give the winner the advantage toward gaining second place in the Metropolitan Division and home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The two teams are currently tied for second with 96 points and two games in hand.