Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist, out with concussion, hard to replace |

Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist, out with concussion, hard to replace

Chris Harlan
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist defends on the Sabres’ Will Borgen in the first period Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
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The Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 10, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Replacing Patric Hornqvist’s scoring is difficult, but Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan also pointed to the other attributes the team loses without the concussed winger in the lineup.

Energy, attitude and toughness topped his list.

Calling it a “tough loss,” Sullivan said Hornqvist would sit out Saturday’s game with a concussion. Hornqvist took a hard hit from Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller in the second period a night earlier in Boston and did not return for the third.

“He’s an important player for us,” Sullivan said before his team faced the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena. “He does so much for us, the energy that he brings and his positive attitude. All of that stuff is infectious. He has such a great influence on our team both in the dressing room and on the bench. He’s just a great teammate.

“And then his on-ice play speaks for itself and what he does for our team,” Sullivan added. “He’s a unique player for us. He’s really good in front of the net, he’s great in battle areas, he plays a fearless game and that’s what makes him what he is. Certainly it’s a tough loss for us.”

Hornqvist’s nine goals tie him with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for second best on the team. He had five goals and nine points in his past nine games. Without him, the team lacks a forward with his abilities to work in front of the net.

“He does a lot of little things,” Crosby said earlier this week. “His job’s probably one of the hardest with him going to the net and the beating that he takes every night there. He continues to go there, and he doesn’t shy away from it. It’s a tough area to go to, but that’s where you score and that’s where you create a lot of openings for your linemates. He’s been doing that for a long time. We’ve seen him do that time and time again.”

Wilson promoted from AHL

With Hornqvist unavailable, the Penguins recalled Garrett Wilson from Wilkes Barre/Scranton. The 6-foot-2, 199-pound forward had 11 points and 34 penalty minutes in 12 AHL games this season.

Wilson, 27, made his Penguins debut earlier this month and averaged 7 minutes, 38 seconds in four games. His previous NHL experience consisted of 34 regular-season and six postseason games for the Florida Panthers from 2014-16.

Rare back-to-back games

This weekend marks the first time this season the Penguins played games on back-to-back days. By this time last year, they had already played five times on consecutive days.

Their upcoming schedule includes games Tuesday in Winnipeg and Wednesday in Colorado and two more back-to-backs in December.

It’s not something they seem to be dreading, however. Given the team’s early season struggles, center Riley Sheahan said he’s welcoming a busy stretch of schedule.

“I think it’s good for us, playing more games, getting in a little more of a rhythm, trying to create some momentum,” Sheahan said. “I think it will be good. Sometimes when you can get right back at it, you can get in a groove.”

Grant remains out

Derek Grant (undisclosed) was out of Saturday’s lineup after Sullivan earlier called him a game-time decision. The center also sat out Friday’s game in Boston.

Grant, who has one point in 10 games, contributes as one of the team’s top four penalty killers.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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