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Penguins Place Letang on IR

USATSI_9806897_154158418_lowresThe Pittsburgh Penguins have put defenceman Kris Letang on the injured reserve list Monday. He is officially week-to-week after he was injured three minutes into Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The 29-year-old was tangled up with Detroit’s Thomas Vanek early in the first period and twisted awkwardly on the way down. He returned briefly to the game, but left for good and registered just 2:06 of ice time.

“Obviously, he’s a hard guy to replace,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s our top defenceman, but we’ve done it before. He’s been out before. We’ve got capable people. It won’t be any one guy, it’ll be by committee. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll see how he is.”

Letang has 23 points in 30 games this season and he leads the Penguins in ice time with an average of 25:12 per game. He’s missed seven games this season with a lower body injury and five games with an upper body injury, however, so Pittsburgh has been down this road already.

Forward Jake Guentzel and defenceman Chad Ruhwedel were brought in from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. The organization has been taking a look at top prospect Guentzel in particular, while 26-year-old Ruhwedel has some experience in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres but hasn’t seen significant time in the big leagues.

The injury to Letang comes as the Penguins find themselves in a three-game losing skid. They’re 26-11-5, good for third in the competitive Metropolitan Division, but they’ve scored just six goals in their last three outings and are six points behind the Washington Capitals.

Luckily, the Penguins face the Capitals on Monday night and could pick up some ground in the process.

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