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Penguins notebook: Phil Kessel misses practice for ‘maintenance’ |

Penguins notebook: Phil Kessel misses practice for ‘maintenance’

Chaz Palla
The Penguins’ Phil Kessel during the first day of practice Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

Phil Kessel did not participate in Pittsburgh Penguins practice Sunday afternoon in Cranberry. Coach Mike Sullivan said he had the day off for “maintenance.”

Kessel limped to the locker room briefly during Saturday night’s 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs but returned to the bench without missing a shift.

Patric Hornqvist took Kessel’s place on the second line with Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin. Jake Guentzel filled in on the second power-play unit.

If history is any indication, Kessel is in no danger of missing Monday night’s home game against the New Jersey Devils. Kessel has played in 704 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in the NHL behind Florida’s Keith Yandle (726) and Toronto’s Patrick Marleau (720). It’s the ninth-longest ironman streak in league history.

Derick Brassard also did not practice. Brassard has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury. Sullivan said Brassard has not resumed skating.

Speed trap

At times during Saturday night’s game, the Penguins — a team that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships by using speed as a competitive advantage — looked significantly slower than the up-and-coming Maple Leafs.

Winger Carl Hagelin said it was an optical illusion.

“It was more the commitment to skating, the commitment to playing fast, making quick plays,” Hagelin said. “Any time you say a team is fast, it’s because they know what they’re doing. They’re playing straight ahead. They have fast players, but every team has fast players. It’s just a matter of making the plays tape to tape and showing it every shift.”

Hockey Fights Cancer

Monday night’s game against New Jersey is the team’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer night.

Players will wear purple warm-ups jerseys that will be auctioned off with proceeds going to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Mario Lemieux Foundation. The online auction can be found at

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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