Josh Archibald just wrapped up his pregame skate last Friday and was heading home to make lunch when he was called into coach Clark Donatelli’s office.
Archibald had no idea what to expect, but Donatelli’s message turned out to be a memorable one for the second-year pro.
“He told me I was getting called up to Pittsburgh for a game, possibly more,” Archibald said. “It was a real good feeling and a great day all around.”
A day after getting his first call to the NHL, Archibald played in his first game in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 loss to Calgary. The rookie logged five minutes of ice time over eight shifts while skating on a line with veteran center Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnhackl.
Archibald said it wasn’t a major adjustment playing in his first NHL game and joining a team featuring numerous players with ties to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton helped.
“I was a little nervous my first shift, but all those guys helped calm me down,” Archibald said. “It also helped me settle in a little bit more. I didn’t go into a team where I was unfamiliar with the guys.”
While the adjustment wasn’t too hard, Archibald acknowledged there is a bit of a difference playing at the NHL level. Things are quicker, he said. Passes are faster and on the mark and players always seem to have a jump on the play.
With that in mind, Archibald went into his first game using a familiar formula.
“They wanted me to use my speed, play well defensively and get in on the forecheck,” he said. “Just be an energy guy and stick to my game.”
Archibald’s game is built around his speed, and even though he only played in one game with Pittsburgh before being sent back to Wilkes-Barre, the experience was a good test to see how he stacked up against the best competition in the world.
“It was a good test to see where my speed fit in up there. I think I did well,” Archibald said. “I was first on pucks and on the forecheck, so I think it worked out well for me. I gained a lot of confidence.”
• The Penguins held a quick practice at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday as they prepare for a home-and-home series against Bridgeport on Saturday and Sunday.
• Pittsburgh reassigned F Conor Sheary on Thursday. He has 36 points in 30 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.
• F Oskar Sundqvist was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and Donatelli said he is likely to return to the lineup on Saturday. F Tyler Biggs (concussion) practiced with the red no-contact jersey and G Tristan Jarry (illness) didn’t practice.
• The Penguins reassigned G Brian Foster and forwards Anton Zlobin and Derek Army to Wheeling on Thursday.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TLTomVenesky