As the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare for what’s sure to be a heated home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend, they’ll be without one of their primary weapons.
According to the Penguins’ website, Neal reported that he wasn’t feeling well Thursday and underwent testing. He missed two practices this week for what coach Dan Bylsma called “maintenance” at the time.
Neal, 26, has already missed 21 of the Penguins’ 65 games this season, including a large chunk early with an abdominal issue. He also was suspended five games for a knee to the head of Boston’s Brad Marchand in December.
Despite his extended absences, Neal is fourth on the team with 49 points and third in goals with 22. After scoring a goal in five straight games from Feb. 3 to March 1, he has only one assist in his past five, including a scoreless effort Tuesday against Washington.
The Penguins also updated the status of winger Chris Kunitz, who practiced Friday after getting a day off Thursday. Kunitz slammed his leg into a net post Tuesday and appeared hobbled afterward, but he is officially a game-day decision for Saturday’s 1 p.m. faceoff in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh (44-17-4, 92 points) has won three straight and holds a 19-point lead over the fourth-place Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.