The Pittsburgh Penguins will dress a full NHL lineup for their final home game of the preseason against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night, with one notable exception.
Defenseman Justin Schultz will not play due to what coach Mike Sullivan described as a nagging upper-body injury.
“It’ll be a day-to-day thing,” Sullivan said. “I don’t envision it being anything serious.”
Schultz will be replaced by training camp standout Juuso Riikola, both in the lineup as Jamie Oleksiak’s defense partner and as the point man on the team’s second power-play unit.
“He’s got a good shot. I think he moves along the offensive blue line extremely well,” Sullivan said. “We’re just trying to continue to put him in those situations and see how he does. It gives us an opportunity to know his game that much more.”
Otherwise, the game will essentially act as a dress rehearsal for the Oct. 4 season opener against the Washington Capitals.
While acknowledging that exhibition games mean different things to different players, Sullivan said he asked his team to take its preparation for the Buffalo matchup seriously.
“My challenge to them was that we just have to make sure that we’re getting better with each game that we play, that there’s a concerted effort and a preparation process from a mindset standpoint to get back into the competitive mode that we need to be in for the drop of the puck in Game 1,” he said.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.