COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ian Cole had scored the tying goal to help the Penguins spoil Marc-Andre Fleury’s return to Pittsburgh on Feb. 6 in a 5-4 win. At the time, Cole figured he wouldn’t see his old teammate again until next season, or possibly in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals if everything broke right.
Instead, Cole was traded from Pittsburgh to Ottawa and ultimately dealt to Columbus on Feb. 26. Tuesday, the defenseman renewed acquaintances with Fleury as well as former Penguins teammate Ryan Reaves when the Golden Knights met the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
“He’s one of my good buddies so it’ll be fun to give him some pad taps out there,” Cole said of Fleury, who started in net for the Knights. “Seeing Flower and his family after the game was great, though his wife (Veronique) wasn’t particularly happy with me since I scored. But Flower gave me a big hug, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.”
As for Reaves, who was acquired from the Penguins in another deal the day Cole was sent to Ottawa, Cole expected a more physical greeting.
“He’s gonna try to run me tonight for sure,” Cole said. “I’ll be ready for that, and I’ll try and get out of the way.”
Center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was activated from injured-reserve and in the lineup vs. Columbus. Bellemare missed seven games with an upper-body injury after being injured Feb. 17 against Montreal.
Schmidt, Neal update
Forward James Neal and defenseman Nate Schmidt remained in Las Vegas on Tuesday as Neal missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury and Schmidt his third straight with an undisclosed injury.
Coach Gerard Gallant said both are close to returning.
“They’re both skating on their own,” he said. “Hopefully we get them back soon.”
With Bellemare back, Tomas Hyka was a healthy scratch against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus was without starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who was sick and did not dress Tuesday. Joonas Korpisalo (5-7 with a goals-against average of 3.30) started. His last win was Jan. 18 in a shootout over Dallas. Jeff Zatkoff was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis to back up Korpisalo.
It was a year ago Tuesday that the Knights made history when they signed Reid Duke to an entry level contract as the team’s first player. The 22-year-old center is with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.