Penguins all-star Jake Guentzel has shoulder surgery after win over Senators
Pittsburgh's leading scorer this season to be sidelined 4-6 months
Evgeni Malkin's goal in the first minute sparked the Pittsburgh Penguins to a victory that ended with a distressing thud.
Malkin scored twice but teammate Jake Guentzel was injured right after getting his 20th of the season in the Penguins' 5-2 win Monday night over the Ottawa Senators.
The Pittsburgh winger, who crashed hard into the boards after contact with Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot, will miss four to six months of action following shoulder surgery, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday.
There's a chance the 25-year-old Guentzel could return for a portion of the playoffs for Pittsburgh, which entered Tuesday in second place in the Metropolitan Division behind Washington.
"He's not an easy guy to replace but we've lost some tough guys to replace throughout the course of this season, and I know we have the wherewithal to continue to find ways to win," Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said.
Guentzel had a three-point night but left after scoring 6:55 into the third period. Selected to his first all-star game on Monday, he tapped the puck into a partially empty net off Malkin's feed.
Guentzel, who tops the Penguins with 43 points this season, immediately went to the dressing room after getting his 200th career point.
WATCH | Guentzel guides Pens past Sens before injury:
Guentzel's potent scoring has helped the Penguins stay afloat during an injury-riddled first half. Veterans Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist have all missed significant time over the last three months. But Pittsburgh has found a way to stay in contention in the crowded Metropolitan Division.
The win over Ottawa vaulted the Penguins into second place behind Washington.
Crosby, who hasn't played since having abdominal surgery in mid-November, skated with his teammates on Tuesday, But there remains no timetable for his possible return. The Penguins are 14-5-3 during his absence.
"Just seeing the collective effort it's taken to this point, it's been great to see and you want to be a part of that," Crosby said. "It's something that's gotten us through a lot of these injuries."
Crosby return date uncertain
Crosby called it "tough" to see Guentzel go down. He fell over the stick of Ottawa's Thomas Chabot and landed face-first in the boards. Sullivan described Guentzel — who helped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2017 — "one of the elite players in the league."
Guentzel had been playing on the top line alongside Malkin with Crosby out. Sullivan said the team will take it game-by-game when it comes to determining lineups. While Crosby's return date is still uncertain, his mere presence on Tuesday provided a boost.
"Sid is such a great leader for this team and our guys look up to him so much, the timing of him joining us I think was appropriate for the group," Sullivan said. "I know our guys certainly get excited when he's on the ice."
The team estimated Crosby could be ready to return in about six weeks when he had the surgery after aggravating a sports hernia against Chicago on Nov. 9. He's now inside that window but declined to give any specifics on when his familiar No. 87 might be ready. He said he won't play on Thursday when the Penguins host San Jose.
Jarry on roll
"Every week I've been able to do more and more, that's positive," Crosby said. "The team's been playing unbelievable. ... Even before I got hurt, guys going down left and right and still finding ways to win."
Malkin stretched his point streak to six games. He has seven goals and 24 points in his past 13 contests. Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon also scored the Penguins, who have won three straight and 10 of 12.
Tristan Jarry stopped 24 shots to win his sixth straight game. He has won eight of his last nine starts and allowed no more than two goals in 14 of 18 appearances this season.
Nick Paul scored twice for the Senators, who ended a five-game points streak. Paul has three goals in his last two games.
Marcus Hogberg made 28 saves for the Senators.
With files from CBC Sports