Pens welcome Staal back

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:22 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Jordan Staal will be back in action for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers tonight, but the same can't be said for Gary Roberts and Braydon Coburn.

Staal, the young Pens forward, arrived back here at 11 p.m. Wednesday night, completing a whirlwind day in which he flew back to his home town of Thunder Bay to attend services for his grandfather John, who passed away Sunday.

"It was a tough day," Staal said after the Penguins game day skate at the Wachovia Center this morning. "Our opa was close to the whole family. He was an amazing man.

"I'm back and ready to play though. I missed the guys. I'm just focussed on winning. (Playing hockey) is what I love to do."

Staal expressed his gratitude to former Penguins teammate Mark Recchi, who played a significant role in setting up the private plane that carried Jordan on his one-day round-trip journey to Thunder Bay, then back to Philadelphia.

"Recc's helped me out," Staal said. "He's an unbelievable guy and a great friend. I live with him in Pittsburgh and his family has been unbelievable to me."

Teammate Sidney Crosby, the Penguins captain, said the entire team is supportive of Jordan.

"It's tough to lose someone like that," Crosby said. "We've pretty much all been through it. It's so tough to lose someone like that.

"We see what he's been going through. We can help him."

While Staal returns to the lineup, Roberts will not. The veteran winger, who missed Game 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday, has pneumonia and is out indefinitely, although coach Michel Therrien does expect him to be available later on in the post-season.

"He's still sick," Therrien said. "He's on medication and is day-to-day."

On the Flyers side, Coburn, who needed more than 50 stitches to seal a gash near his left eye after being hit by a Hal Gill shot in Game 2, will not play despite returning to the ice Wednesday.

"We were hopeful," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "He's getting closer but not tonight. We're not going to put anyone at risk and that's the case right now."


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