Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surprise! Vitale, Sutter Practice

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surprise! Vitale, Sutter Practice

Article excerpt

Somewhat surprisingly, forwards Brandon Sutter and Joe Vitale practiced with the Penguins Wednesday at Consol Energy Center, less than 48 hours after they got hurt in the clinching Game 6 win against Columbus.

Sutter was limping badly Monday night as he left the game, a 4-3 win. Vitale was slumped on the ice for a few minutes after he had a knee-on-knee collision with Blue Jackets winger Blake Comeau.

"Hopefully, seeing them on the ice is an indication that they're good" for Round 2, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Sutter left the game after a run-in with Columbus winger Nick Foligno along the boards, but he said the injury actually occurred earlier in the game.

"Not going to talk about it too much," Sutter said, alluding to the secrecy that shrouds injury details in the playoffs. "All I can say is it felt pretty good [at practice]. I'm happy with the way it's gone the past two days. Shouldn't be a problem going forward."

Sutter had a strong first-round series against Columbus, with three goals, two assists and strong defensive work. He credited his experience a year ago, his first time in the NHL playoffs.

"That first go-round with it is a different level," he said. "Last year was a fun experience. ... That experience definitely helps. You get a chance to come here your second time at it, you know what to expect a bit more and are a little better prepared for it."

Vitale initially seemed to have what could be a long-term knee injury.

"The way Joe was injured and left the ice, you worried," Bylsma said.

As it turned out, the Penguins' flight home Monday night was delayed several hours, and, by the time the team boarded, Vitale was feeling better.

"It was a little bit of a scare when it happened," Vitale said. "I'm taking it one day at a time. All I can say is I woke up [Wednesday], and it felt great. It felt good enough to skate, and it felt good out there."

The only player missing from practice Wednesday was defenseman Brooks Orpik, who sat out the final two games of Round 1 because of an unspecified injury.

FATIGUE FACTOR

The Penguins didn't learn their second-round opponent until Wednesday night, but they knew that regardless of whether it was Philadelphia or the New York Rangers, they would be facing a team that could be more tired than them. …

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