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Illness continues to sideline Penguins' Letang

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will not play against the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Consol Energy Center.

After missing two games with an undisclosed illness, Letang continues to not feel well and will undergo further evaluations. It is uncertain if Letang's ailment could be long-term, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

The 2013 Norris Trophy finalist has missed 21 games entering Monday due to various injuries.

Pittsburgh is 16-5-0 without Letang this season, but defenseman Matt Niskanen said the Penguins will need to increase their quality of play if they are to compete with Ottawa after losing 3-1 against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

"They play hard, they have a good mix of skilled veterans and young energy guys that can skate," Niskanen said. "They play a fast game. [Craig] Anderson's a good goalie. Where they're at in the standings, they're going to bring it.

"They're a good test for us and a good thing for us to keep getting better at those tight-checking games, those tightly matched games."

The Senators defeated Pittsburgh 5-0 when Letang was out with an upper-body injury on Dec. 23. But Ottawa captain Jason Spezza said the Penguins are dangerous with or without Letang.

"Their power play is probably a little different missing him," Spezza said. "He's elite back there and he shoots it and sees the ice, but I think he's been out for a lot of games this year and they've had a lot of success anyway. They have some pretty creative guys over there.

"But you definitely pay attention to that stuff."

Pittsburgh did not do line rushes during its Monday morning skate, but it is likely Robert Bortuzzo will remain in Letang's usual position alongside Rob Scuderi.

Here are the expected lineups for the Senators and Penguins:


Milan MichalekJason SpezzaMika Zibanejad

Clarke MacArthurKyle TurrisBobby Ryan

Colin GreeningZack SmithChris Neil

Cory ConacherStephane Da CostaErik Condra

Jared CowenErik Karlsson

Marc MethotEric Gryba

Patrick WierciochCody Ceci

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Joe Corvo, Matt Kassian

Injured: Mark Stone (upper body), Chris Phillips (lower body)


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyBrian Gibbons

Jussi JokinenEvgeni MalkinJames Neal

Tanner GlassBrandon SutterJayson Megna

Taylor PyattCraig AdamsDeryk Engelland

Brooks OrpikPaul Martin

Rob ScuderiRobert Bortuzzo

Olli MaattaMatt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett

Injured: Kris Letang (ill), Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Joe Vitale (upper body), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)

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