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Malkin, Staal uncertain for depleted Penguins

by Alan Robinson /
PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin has become an unexpected addition to the Pittsburgh Penguins' ever-growing injury list that, once again, is headed by star Sidney Crosby.
Malkin, who missed seven games earlier this season following right knee surgery, missed the morning skate in advance of Tuesday night's interconference game against the Detroit Red Wings. Coach Dan Bylsma didn't offer an explanation, and said Malkin would be a game-time decision.
Malkin practiced Monday with no apparent problems. Jordan Staal, the Penguins' all-important No. 3 center, missed that practice with an unspecified lower-body injury but took part in the morning skate.
Staal, who did not play in a 6-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday, will be a game-time decision. He wants to see how his undisclosed injury reacts the rest of the day.
"It felt good but, again, I want to see how it feels once I'm out of the skates and off the ice for a bit and if it starts to flare up," Staal said.
With Crosby out again with concussion-related symptoms, there is a possibility the Penguins could be without all three of their star centers against the Red Wings. If that is the case, Bylsma said Joe Vitale, who alternates at fourth-line center with Richard Park, or Pascal Dupuis will center the top line.
"It's going to be a different story, or difficult, if Staal and Malkin don't play and Joe Vitale or Pascal Dupuis is our No. 1 center," Bylsma said.
Park is out for a month to six weeks with a broken foot.
Dupuis had never played center before filling in there against the Islanders.
"There have been some challenges there," Bylsma said. "Now Pascal Dupuis going to be part of the Big 3 (the Penguins' centers). We'll probably keep him with (Matt) Cooke and (Tyler) Kennedy to add some stability there, some defensive play. Then we'll see how the rest of it plays out come game time with our matchups."
Bylsma had no report on Crosby, who will miss his third consecutive game after developing headaches following a 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5. Crosby said Monday he has been bothered by recurring symptoms -- mostly, headaches -- since last week.
After missing 61 games dating to last season, including the entire second half in 2010-11, Crosby returned to accumulate 2 goals and 10 assists in eight games before the concussion symptoms re-emerged.
"I don't have any update or anything on Sidney," Bylsma said.
With so much uncertainty, the Penguins (17-9-4) recalled forward Jason Williams from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) for the second time in a week.
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (concussion), who hasn't played since Nov. 26, returned to practice Monday but will not play against Detroit.
Here's what the Pens' lines could look like against the Red Wings (18-9-1), who beat them in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final before losing in a rematch a year later:
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Pascal Dupuis - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Steve MacIntyre - Craig Adams - Jason Williams
Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Alexandre Picard
Marc-Andre Fleury, whose spectacular play in net sealed the Penguins’ 2-1 victory in Game 7 in Detroit, will be the goaltender. Brent Johnson serves as backup.
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