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Galchenyuk, Hornqvist will not play for Penguins against Ducks

Each forward has lower-body injury; Malkin, Bjugstad, Rust remain out

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Alex Galchenyuk and Patric Hornqvist each is day to day with a lower-body injury, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins down five forwards for their game against the Anaheim Ducks at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, PRIME, NHL.TV).

After losing two of their first three games, the Penguins will also be without forwards Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust, who are on injured reserve. Malkin and Bjugstad each is out long term with a lower-body injury; Rust is out with an upper-body injury.

"It's a great opportunity for people to step up and show what they can do," coach Mike Sullivan said. "So when teams go through the injury bug like it's hit our team right now, we've got to pull together and find ways to win games. We believe that this group is still capable. We still have enough firepower in the lineup every night."

Galchenyuk did not practice Wednesday after re-aggravating an injury that has nagged him since at least Sept. 25, when he missed a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings. The second-line left wing has two assists in his first three games after being acquired in a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes on June 29.

Hornqvist was injured midway through the first period of Pittsburgh's 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, when the forward took a shot off the leg from Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. 

After starting the season as right wing on the first line, Hornqvist moved to the third line the next game and had two goals in a 7-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Rookie forward Sam Lafferty, who made his NHL debut Tuesday, replaced Hornqvist at third-line right wing during line rushes Wednesday. Dominik Kahun was second-line left wing in place of Galchenyuk.

Jared McCann took over for Malkin at second-line center Tuesday and again during practice Wednesday. Teddy Blueger was third-line center, where Bjugstad normally skates, Tuesday and Wednesday.

With two of their top three centers out, Sullivan said he would try to avoid overexerting first-line center Sidney Crosby.

"We watch his minutes," Sullivan said. "We're well aware of where these guys are at and what our schedule looks like. We're going to try to balance that game right in front of us with the big picture."

Malkin tripped over Letang midway through the second period against Columbus on Saturday. Bjugstad was injured early in the third period of that game.

Rust was the right wing on the second line late in training camp before taking a shot to his hand in Pittsburgh's final preseason game Sept. 28.

Crosby said he looks forward to seeing how the Penguins respond.

"You have to rally around that," Crosby said. "You face adversity at different points of the season. Typically, it's not always Games 2 or 3, that time, but in our case that's what we're facing. So, if we do a good job of getting through this...then we give ourselves a good chance."

Forward Dominik Simon was added to the top power-play unit Wednesday, joining forwards Jake Guentzel and Crosby, and defensemen Justin Schultz and Letang. When everyone is healthy, Hornqvist normally serves as the net-front presence on that unit with Crosby, Malkin, Galchenyuk and Letang.

Hornqvist had 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 69 games last season, his fifth with the Penguins. That was his lowest total since having 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 24 games with the Nashville Predators during a shortened 2012-13 season.

Galchenyuk had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) for Arizona last season after playing his first six NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

Having several forwards out less than a week into the regular season could make it difficult to analyze the Penguins, Sullivan said.

"It's hard," Sullivan said. "The other side of it is we're only on Game 3. So, we've got to be careful that we don't jump to conclusions. With a lot of our guys, there's been a body of work that we have a real good understanding of where their respective games are at and how we can best utilize them.

"With some of our newer guys, we're trying to put them in positions where they can play to their strengths. We're also trying to win each and every game every night and figure out how these guys can help us win."

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