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Rich get richer: Letang returns for Penguins, Carlson back for Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23: Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers and Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins share a laugh during the first period at Madison Square Garden on November 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Chalk it up to getting a little extra time off thanks to the All-Star break or (most likely) just a coincidence, but two East contenders are getting a key defenseman back apiece on Tuesday.

In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, blueliner Kris Letang returns to the lineup as Pittsburgh faces the Nashville Predators. Letang last played on Jan. 14. The Penguins ended up winning 4-2.

The remarkably healthy Washington Capitals get even healthier with John Carlson back in the mix as the Caps visit the suddenly hot New York Islanders in Brooklyn. Similar to Letang, Carlson’s most recent appearance came about two weeks ago (Jan. 15). Washington dropped a 3-2 loss to the Islanders.

As much as each Metropolitan power thrives off of their star forwards, these two defensemen are key motors in their own right, especially in the case of Letang (as there’s a pronounced drop-off between No. 58 and every other Penguins blueliner).

Oh, and speaking of Metro teams, a friendly reminder that Marc Staal is in for the New York Rangers as well: