BLUE JACKETS (13-19-3) at PENGUINS (15-14-3)
TV: FS-O, ROOT
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will not play against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center on Monday because of a lower-body injury.
Crosby did not practice Sunday after earning three assists in his past two games, a 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday and a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby's status against the Blue Jackets was questionable Sunday, but confirmed he would not play a day later.
Sullivan said he does not believe Crosby's injury will be long-term.
The Penguins did not hold a morning skate Monday, so their line combinations and defensive pairings will not be known until pregame warmups. Pittsburgh recalled forward Bryan Rust from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Sunday and Sullivan said he could play three AHL call-ups on a line.
"We're going to put line combinations together that we think will have some chemistry and have complementary skill sets," Sullivan said. "I guess common sense would suggest that if you put three guys together that have played together, they might have success. But we'll put some combinations together that give us some balance and give us a chance to establish some chemistry amongst the group."
The Blue Jackets, who held an optional morning skate, will also be without a top forward. Nick Foligno will not play Monday because of an undisclosed injury, Columbus coach John Tortorella said. Defenseman Kevin Connauton will also not play, and forwards Jack Johnson and Rene Bourque will enter the lineup.
Johnson missed two games with an upper-body injury.
"We haven't had a full lineup for quite a while," Tortorella said. "We've been banged around. Our starting goalie is out. We keep on losing people, we get some back and we lose them again. But I think the guys have really hung in there. We gave up some chances the other night. I think both teams did. I think it was like 21-21, by our count. Both teams gave up a number of chances and I thought [goalie Joonas Korpisalo] played very well … So, we found a way. It was ugly at times, but we've found ways, during some of these games, to lose. It was nice to find a way to win these past couple games."
Tortorella said Korpisalo will play again Monday, two days after making 25 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Korpisalo's first NHL win. He will face Penguins goalie Matthew Murray, who will make his second NHL start after debuting Saturday.
Sullivan has not decided how he will manage playing time between Murray and goalie Jeff Zatkoff with Marc-Andre Fleury recovering from a concussion. Pittsburgh has lost each of its three games since Fleury exited the lineup.
"I'm not sure yet how I plan on spreading the minutes," Sullivan said. "I think I'm going to try to make decisions that I think, or we think as a coaching staff, is going to give our team the best chance to win on a given night. So, really that's the criteria. I think, right now, we have to have a very short-term focus and try to get this thing going in the right direction."
Here are the projected lineups:
Boone Jenner – Ryan Johansen – Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell – Alexander Wennberg – Rene Bourque
Gregory Campbell – William Karlsson – David Clarkson
Jack Johnson – Ryan Murray
Fedor Tyutin – Dalton Prout
Andrew Bodnarchuk – Justin Falk
Injured: Nick Foligno (undisclosed), Kevin Connauton (undisclosed), Cody Goloubef (broken jaw), Markus Hannikainen (shoulder), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), David Savard (lower body)
Scratched: Jared Boll
David Perron – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary – Nick Bonino – Chris Kunitz
Sergei Plotnikov – Scott Wilson – Patric Hornqvist
Eric Fehr – Matt Cullen – Bryan Rust
Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Brian Dumoulin – Ben Lovejoy
David Warsofsky – Adam Clendening
Injured: Sidney Crosby (lower body) Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Beau Bennett (upper body), Kris Letang (upper body)
Scratched: Kevin Porter, Ian Cole
Status report: Letang, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, wore a non-contact jersey when he joined Pittsburgh for practice Sunday at Consol Energy Center… Columbus activated Bourque from injured reserve Saturday and placed Savard on IR retroactive to Dec. 15.
Who's hot: Malkin has scored three goals in his past five games after scoring his seventh power-play goal of the season against Carolina. He leads the Penguins with 28 points, six more than Crosby, and 15 goals, six more than Kessel … Harntell has scored at least one point in seven of his past eight games. During that stretch, he has scored 10 points and four goals.