MAPLE LEAFS (11-8-2) at PENGUINS (14-4-2)
TV: TVA, SN, ROOT
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will tweak their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday because of an injury to forward Beau Bennett.
Penguins coach Mike Johnston announced Bennett will miss a couple of weeks with a lower-body injury sustained Monday against the Boston Bruins. Bennett, who has played 54 NHL games in three seasons, will miss his 14th game of this season. He made his season debut against the New York Rangers on Nov. 11 after injuring his knee during training camp.
Forward Jayson Megna, who played on the fourth line against Boston, is expected to fill the void, but his specific role is not known because Pittsburgh did not hold line rushes during its optional morning skate. Megna could replace Bennett as the third-line right wing.
Megna said he wants to help the Penguins third line, which includes center Brandon Sutter and left wing Steve Downie, continue its recent surge in production.
"They've obviously proven that they're a line that can put up points and produce," Megna said. "And they're also responsible in the defensive zone. So I think the key for me is just to play my game and kind of help those guys do what they do and bring what I bring, and hopefully that brings some more productivity to the line."
Johnston said he expects Megna, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Saturday, to be a player that can help facilitate offense during Bennett's absence.
"It's great that we got him up before Beau did get injured and got a chance to play him on the fourth line and bump him up in the lineup as the day went along," Johnston said. "But all the reports from [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] are that he's had a phenomenal year. He had a good camp with us. He was right down to the end.
"But I think staring in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] was really good for him to get his confidence. He carries the speed well, he gets in on the forecheck, he can make plays off the rush in speed, and that's something we’re looking for."
Forward Zach Sill is expected to reenter the lineup on the fourth line, potentially alongside forwards Marcel Goc and Craig Adams.
The Maple Leafs will also have to make an adjustment with defenseman Roman Polak out with a knee injury sustained during a game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Polak is expected to be sidelined about four weeks and Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said he will lean on defensemen Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly more heavily.
"We'll try to spread the minutes out and we think the two young players that we have in Gardiner and Rielly will have to play more, simple as that," Carlyle said. "We brought [Korbinian] Holzer up and you can't expect a guy like Holzer to come in and replace a Polak. That's just not the reality of it."
Here are the projected lineups:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas
Scratched: Carter Ashton, Matt Frattin, Richard Panik
Injured: David Booth (broken foot), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain), Joffrey Lupul (broken hand), Roman Polak (knee)
Nick Spaling – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Blake Comeau
Steve Downie – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Zach Sill – Marcel Goc – Craig Adams
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Christian Ehrhoff
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres
Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo
Injured: Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Beau Bennett (lower body)
Status report: Despres has played the past two games alongside Scuderi after being scratched against the New York Islanders on Friday. He has rotated with Bortuzzo on a pairing next to Scuderi during recent morning skates. … Three Maple Leafs, Lupul, Kozun and Booth, have missed at least 12 regular-season games because of injury. Lupul is expected to miss at least another three weeks.
Who's hot: Malkin is on pace to score at least 40 goals for the third time in nine seasons. He has scored three goals across his past two games and has 10 on the season, tied with Hornqvist for the team-lead. … Bozak scored two goals against Detroit and has scored four points in his past two games. He is second on the team, behind Kessel, with 19 points.