Status of Penguins’ Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta up in the air for Monday matchup in Minnesota |

Status of Penguins’ Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta up in the air for Monday matchup in Minnesota

Jonathan Bombulie
Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brendan Perlini, right, controls the puck against Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, in Chicago.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The status of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust and defenseman Olli Maatta is “up in the air” for a New Year’s Eve matchup with the Minnesota Wild, coach Mike Sullivan said.

Rust left Saturday night’s game, a 6-1 Penguins victory in St. Louis, after one period. Maatta finished the game against the Blues. Neither took part in Sunday’s practice at the Xcel Energy Center.

Both are being evaluated for lower-body injuries and are considered day to day, Sullivan said.

With Rust out, Zach Aston-Reese moved into the right-wing spot on the team’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel and almost immediately scored a goal.

If Rust can’t play Monday, Derek Grant is expected to take his place in the lineup, playing with Riley Sheahan and Matt Cullen on an all-center fourth line.

Rust has been one of the team’s top scorers this month, recording eight goals and 11 points in his last nine games.

If Maatta can’t play, Jamie Oleksiak figures to slot into the lineup on a defense pair with Juuso Riikola. Oleksiak was cleared Saturday to return from a concussion suffered Dec. 19.

“It’s just the nature of the business,” Sullivan said. “It’s a hard game and guys get nicked up. It takes more than six defensemen and 12 forwards and two goalies to win. We feel confident in the depth we have with our group. We think we have capable guys that can continue to help us win in the event that certain guys can’t play. Right now, we’ve got some guys that are up in the air. We’ll see how they are and act accordingly.”

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

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