Minus Malkin, Pens take on Lightning
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to win for the fifth time in six games when they host Tampa Bay on Sunday, but they'll have to do so without star center Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin has been ruled out for Sunday's game after suffering what appeared to be a head injury Friday night in a win over Florida. Malkin, who has 21 points in 18 games this season, did not participate in Saturday's optional skate and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the center is still undergoing evaluation.
"He's getting evaluated," said Bylsma on Saturday. "We're waiting to see how he feels and reacts."
Malkin's head slammed hard into the boards when he fell after being hit by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson during the third period of Pittsburgh's 3-1 win. He remained on the ice for a time before skating off under his own power.
"He went into the boards pretty darn hard," Bylsma added. "We're not expecting any timeline to the injury or anything."
The Penguins' victory over Florida improved their record to 4-1-0 since getting swept by New Jersey in a home-and-home series earlier this month. Matt Niskanen and Dustin Jeffrey each scored in the third period to lift Pittsburgh past the Panthers at CONSOL Energy Center.
With the teams even at 1-1, the Panthers failed to clear the zone after killing a penalty and Niskanen fired a slap shot from the blue line that beat AHL call-up Jacob Markstrom at the 7:49 mark.
Jeffrey tapped in Matt Cooke's cross-ice pass at the left post with 4:45 to play.
"I just went to the net. I didn't know if (Cooke) was going to shoot or pass. He ended up putting it right on my stick," Jeffrey said.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was held without a point in Friday's win after recording two goals and six assists in his previous four games. Crosby has 20 points (6 goals, 14 assists) in 21 career games against Tampa Bay.
Pittsburgh is capping a three-game homestand on Sunday and is 4-4-0 as the host this season. The Pens will begin a three-game road trip with Tuesday's test at the Florida Panthers.
The Lightning have lost three straight and five of six in the series against Pittsburgh. Tampa has also dropped four in a row and six of seven in the Steel City.
Tampa Bay won for the third time in four games after notching Saturday's lopsided victory at Carolina. Mathieu Garon made 32 saves and the Lightning received goals from five different players in a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes.
Richard Panik tallied his first career NHL goal, while Steven Stamkos, Tom Pyatt, Benoit Pouliot and Marc-Andre Bergeron also lit the lamp. The Lightning sprinted to the finish by scoring four times in the final period.
Stamkos has recorded a point in five straight games and has five goals and four assists during that stretch.
"The past two years we haven't had that much success on the road. Tonight I thought we played a perfect road game," Garon said on Saturday.
The triumph pushed Tampa Bay's road record this season to 3-4-0. Saturday's game also began a stretch of six away outings in seven games for the Bolts.
Next up for Tampa is Tuesday's home test against Buffalo, but that will be followed by a four-game road trip, a swing that includes another stop in Pittsburgh on March 4.