|Injuries already mounting for Pens, Canucks|
It's only a couple weeks into the season, yet when the Vancouver Canucks meet the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena, one of the main story lines for both clubs will revolve around injuries.
The Penguins (2-1-1) lost one of their top two-way defensemen when Justin Schultz had surgery Sunday for a broken lower left leg. He was hurt Saturday when he apparently got his skate stuck in a rut on the ice while falling and is expected to miss four months.
"It's a huge loss for us, especially what he brings, the role he plays in tons of aspects of our team," fellow Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said Monday. "He stabilizes the whole (defensive) corps."
The Penguins still appeared to be looking at potential defensive pairings beyond the top tandem of Letang and Brian Dumoulin.
"We have capable NHL defensemen, so I'm confident that we can put guys in that I know can help us win games," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "(Schultz) is not an easy guy to replace. He's a very good player and has been very good for us for a long time. So it's a tough loss from our standpoint, but certainly we've got to be prepared with the guys that we have."
Schultz has four assists in four games this season. Last season, he had four goals, 27 points in 63 games.
It seems likely that Juuso Riikola will find a regular spot on the Penguins defense for the foreseeable future.
Pittsburgh's other injury news is more positive for them. No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray, who got a concussion Oct. 8 in practice, could start against Vancouver. He served as Casey DeSmith's backup Saturday in a 4-3 shootout against the Canadiens.
"It's hard to know with injuries like that, but it's no fun to have those injuries, either, so I was happy with how quickly it resolved," said Murray, who has had three concussions during his NHL career, two this calendar year.
"We are excited that he is healthy," Sullivan said. "It's great for our team. It's great for Matt. It's certainly encouraging that it didn't linger or last for a significant amount of time."
Vancouver (3-2), which practiced Monday in Pittsburgh, will be without promising rookie Elias Pettersson and veteran Jay Beagle.
Pettersson has a concussion after taking a hit Saturday from Florida's Mike Matheson, who was suspended for two games by the NHL department of player safety.
"He's doing better," Canucks coach Travis Green said Monday. "Better yesterday. Better today again."
Pettersson has five goals, eight points, leading Vancouver in both categories. He is expected to miss at least the next two games.
"It's tough to see an injury like that ... (to) a player like that, who's if not our best player, one of the best players in the league right now in my opinion," Canucks forward Bo Horvat told NHL.com.
Beagle is expected to miss six weeks because of a broken forearm he sustained blocking a shot.
Green noted that Beagle's injury has been overshadowed by Pettersson's injury and the Matheson hit. Beagle has one assist.
"It got lost in this a little bit," Green said. "He's also a big part of the group."
Vancouver recalled forward Adam Gaudette from Utica of the American Hockey League.
The Penguins recalled forward Derek Grant from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while returning goaltender Tristan Jarry, who had been on an emergency recall. Pittsburgh has not yet replaced Schultz on the roster.