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Malkin remains sidelined, won't face Ducks

Penguins center day-to-day with lower-body injury

by Wes Crosby @OtherNHLCrosby / NHL.com Correspondent

DUCKS (25-18-7) at PENGUINS (26-18-7)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; FS-W, ROOT, NHL.TV

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will not play against the Anaheim Ducks at Consol Energy Center on Monday. 

Malkin did not travel to Florida this past weekend for the Penguins games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday and Florida Panthers on Saturday because of a lingering lower-body injury. Pittsburgh split the two games and will face a third without three of its primary centers, including Nick Bonino (hand) and Eric Fehr (lower body). 

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin is day-to-day and wasn't comfortable with skating Monday. 

Forward Matt Cullen can be expected to replace Malkin again at second-line center between left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel. Cullen has played well recently, with two goals in his past three games, but can't realistically fill the hole left by Malkin, who leads the Penguins with 23 goals and is tied with Sidney Crosby with a team-leading 49 points. 

Forward Chris Kunitz has moved up to the top power-play unit in Malkin's place, with forwards Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and Crosby, as well as defenseman Kris Letang.  

"I don't think it has to operate differently [without Malkin]," Sullivan said. "The one element that [Malkin] has brought to [the power play] that's complementary with the rest of that group, probably most specifically complementary with Sid, is just their movement, their motion. My observation of working with these guys since I've been here is that when we're at our best on our power play, there's motion and instinctive play. … We don't get stagnant. We don't get stuck in one spot." 

Rookie forward Oskar Sundqvist, recalled Thursday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, centered the third line during the Monday skate and Kevin Porter, normally a wing on the fourth line, remained at fourth-line center. 

Hagelin has been most impacted by Malkin's absence over the past two games, failing to score in each after recording an assist in five of his first six games with the Penguins. His career-long five-game assist streak ended when he was a minus-3 in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay. 

With the Penguins facing the Ducks on Monday and the New York Rangers on Wednesday, Hagelin will face each of his former teams in the span of three days. Hagelin described his level of surprise stemming the Jan. 16 trade that sent him from Anaheim to Pittsburgh as "five out of five." 

"I think it'll be a fun game," Hagelin said. "They're a good team. They're rolling right now, so it's a good task for us and overall, we need to play our best to have a chance." 

Since the trade, Hagelin has ignited alongside Malkin and Kessel while his counterpart, Anaheim forward David Perron, has had an even more impressive turnaround. 

After scoring four goals and 16 points in 43 games with the Penguins this season, Perron has found a rhythm playing on the Ducks' top line, leading to three goals and eight points in seven games. 

"I wasn't fully surprised [by the trade]. I wasn't shocked," Perron said. "But it's not something you wait for. You want to make it right and I was trying as hard as I could to make the best of the situation and I welcomed the new start and I think so did Hagelin." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

DUCKS

David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Chris Stewart  
Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry  
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg  
Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Mike Santorelli  

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa  
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson  
Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen  

John Gibson  
Frederik Andersen  

Injured: Clayton Stoner (hip flexor) 
Scratched: Shawn Horcoff, Harry Zolnierczyk, Korbinian Holzer  

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist 
Carl Hagelin - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel 
Tom Kuhnhackl - Oskar Sundqvist - Bryan Rust  
Scott Wilson - Kevin Porter - Conor Sheary  

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang 
Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin  
Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot  

Marc-Andre Fleury  
Jeff Zatkoff  

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion), Eric Fehr (lower body) 
Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole  

Status report: Warsofsky participated in the Penguins' morning skate after missing seven games with a concussion. He skated on a fourth defensive pairing with Cole. … Despres will face his former team for the second time. In his first game against Pittsburgh, Despres played 16:32 and was minus-2 on March 6, 2015. 

Who's hot: Crosby, who scored his 900th career point on Saturday, has scored at least one goal in eight consecutive home games, a career-high. He's scored 12 goals and 16 points during that streak, as well as an NHL-leading 22 points and 13 goals total since Jan. 1 … Perry has scored at least one point in five of his past six games. He scored his team-leading 21st goal in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. 

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