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The Pittsburgh Penguins have activated defenseman Ian Cole from injured reserve, and placed defenseman Matt Hunwick on IR, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Cole, who is a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers per head coach Mike Sullivan, is looking to play for the first time since October 7, when Cole took a Roman Josi slap shot in the face while blocking a shot in a 4-0 defeat of the Nashville Predators. Cole has missed the Pens last three games.

The Penguins play their second division game of the 2017-18 campaign tonight against the Rangers at 7:00 PM at Madison Square Garden. Pittsburgh won its first Metropolitan Division matchup, 3-2, last Wednesday night against the Capitals in Washington, D.C.

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Here are three takeaways from the Pens’ Monday afternoon practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

1. Cole update

Pens defenseman Ian Cole still has swelling around his mouth after being struck by a puck in Pittsburgh’s 4-0 win against Nashville last Saturday.

There is no timeline for Cole’s return, though he was ruled out for Wednesday’s contest in Washington.

“He looks surprisingly better than I thought he would today,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “There’s obvious swelling, but he is making progress.”

2. Ruhwedel in

With Cole out of the lineup, blueliner Chad Ruhwedel is expected to play in his first game of the season.

“I think Chad will step in and help us win,” Sullivan said. “He’s a good player. He’s played a lot of games for us. We know his game is. We know what he’s capable of.

“We understand how important Chad Ruhwedel is to this hockey team. We have complete faith that he’ll step in and he’ll do the best job that he knows how to help us continue to find ways to win games.”

Ruhwedel, 27, appeared in 34 games and six playoff contests last season for the Penguins. He has been the team’s No. 7 defenseman this year.

“You just have to work every day. It’s not easy but once your number gets called you have to step right into a game that everyone else is ready for,” Ruhwedel said. “There are no excuses.

“Staying in shape and getting extra work after practice to make sure I’m ready to go. If my number is called it’s just a matter of being ready.”

3. Hornqvist close

Winger Patric Hornqvist (hand) participated in full practice on Monday, including contact.

As long as he continues to progress, Hornqvist could be upgraded to a game-time decision for Wednesday night in Washington.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It was fun to have a real practice, did some line rushes and a whole practice. I’m one step closer and that’s all I can tell you guys right now.”