Sidney Crosby has done plenty of damage in his brief career against the Philadelphia Flyers, but the Pittsburgh Penguins' young star remains out with a lingering ankle injury.
Evgeni Malkin has shown he's more than capable of picking up the scoring slack.
|The Penguins' Sidney Crosby, right, remains out with an ankle injury for Sunday's contest with the Philadelphia Flyers but teammate Evgeni Malkin, left, has shined in the captain's absence. Pittsburgh hopes to win for the fifth time in its last six games. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
The NHL's second-leading scorer will try to help the Penguins win for the fifth time in six games on Sunday when they host the Flyers, a team Malkin has said he doesn't care for.
Pittsburgh (40-24-7) had gotten used to Crosby, who had 34 points in 19 career games against Philadelphia, dominating its cross-state rivals. But Crosby has missed 22 games this season, including two against the Flyers, due to a high ankle sprain.
After playing three games since returning on March 4, Crosby felt some soreness in his ankle prior to the team's game Wednesday's 7-3 win over Buffalo and will be out for another week.
Malkin has kept the Penguins' offense rolling though, producing 15 goals and 22 assists in helping his team go 12-6-4 thus far without its captain. He set a single-game high for points this season the last time Philadelphia (35-27-10) came to town on Feb. 10, scoring a goal and assisting on three others in a 4-3 win.
"He's a world-class player and a big concern," Flyers coach John Stevens said after that game.
In addition, Malkin, who has three goals and six assists this season against the Penguins' division rival, admitted after the win that he isn't particularly fond of Philadelphia.
"I don't really like to play against them," he said. "I don't like that team. It's something that's a little bit extra."
With Crosby - the reigning MVP and scoring champion - out, Malkin was one of seven Penguins to score in the win over the Sabres.
"I think guys feel now that if we do have to play with a shortened lineup, they feel comfortable with what they can do and what they can produce," said Ty Conklin, who beat Buffalo for the fourth time this season and improved to 18-6-5.
|The Flyers' Daniel Briere, right, has recorded a point in seven straight games. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)
Though Crosby won't play, the Penguins should get Marian Hossa back in their lineup against Philadelphia. Hossa, acquired from Atlanta at the trade deadline, lasted less than two periods in his Pittsburgh debut on Feb. 28 before suffering a knee injury. He has 26 goals and 30 assists this season.
The Flyers are clinging to the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but missed a chance to move up on Saturday.
They led the seventh-place Bruins 2-1 later in the third period but goaltender Tim Thomas allowed a goal with 27 seconds to play, then had another slip past him in overtime. The 3-2 loss was the Flyers' third straight defeat.
"When you're in the lead in the third period, you should be able to close it out," said forward Daniel Briere, who scored his 26th goal. "We've thrown away a lot of points lately. We're frustrated that we're blowing leads, but we're right there, still in the hunt."
Briere has a point in seven straight games, totaling four goals and three assists. Jeff Carter has been on a roll as well, posting seven goals and two assists in his last eight games.
But the Flyers' best player against the Penguins this season has been center R.J. Umberger. The Pittsburgh native only has 12 goals, but has six of those - along with five assists - against his hometown team.
After the Penguins swept Philadelphia in eight games last season, the Flyers have won four of five in the series in 2007-08.