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Penguins counting on Evgeni Malkin vs. Ducks

Pittsburgh still without Sidney Crosby, goalie Jonathan Bernier may make debut with Anaheim

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

DUCKS (0-1-0) at PENGUINS (1-0-0)


PITTSBURGH -- Forward Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins are prepared to play without captain Sidney Crosby again when they face the Anaheim Ducks at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Crosby remains day-to-day with a concussion he sustained during an Oct. 7 practice. After missing the Penguins practice Friday, Crosby skated on his own Saturday morning and sat out their optional morning skate.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby's status has not changed.

"I think Sid finds he gets more out of [skating on his own] as opposed to joining the group sometimes and being in a non-contact situation," Sullivan said. "Everything to this point has been encouraging and we'll take each day as it comes."

Without Crosby, Pittsburgh will turn to Malkin, who had a solid showing in its 3-2 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Thursday. After assisting on forward Patric Hornqvist's power-play goal 8:47 into the second period, Malkin gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead by slipping a shot that hit goalie Braden Holtby's pad, hit the post, went off Holtby again and slid into the net with 1:08 remaining in the period.

Malkin's linemates varied throughout the game, and that will likely be the case again Saturday.

"Part of it is just a gut feeling on trying to use him in advantageous positions," Sullivan said. "He certainly is a dynamic player and we're going to try to put him in positions that allow him to do his thing. If I see opportunities to get him on the ice, sometimes it's going to be a double shift with different line combinations."

Malkin has expressed frustration with his performance in recent weeks, something that Penguins defenseman Ian Cole finds impressive.

"He's obviously a very dominant player," Cole said. "Maybe he's not playing his best hockey in his eyes, but he can still produce and help out team. It takes a special player to do that."

Pittsburgh's lineup should be unchanged from Thursday.

The Penguins will likely face Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier, who was first off the ice and would make his Anaheim debut, instead of Pittsburgh native John Gibson. The 23-year-old has allowed six goals in each of his previous two starts in Pittsburgh.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle did not confirm a starter but said Gibson's past experience in Pittsburgh could play a factor in him sitting Saturday.

The Ducks, who lost 4-2 at the Dallas Stars on Thursday in their season opener, said they are confident with either goalie.

"[Bernier had] been great during camp," forward Jared Boll said. "Every game he's played, he's been really good. He's easy to play in front of. Both goalies we have are really good goalies and that helps out a lot."

Anaheim will be without defenseman Simon Despres (upper body). Carlyle said Korbinian Holzer would slip into Despres' spot in the lineup alongside Sami Vatanen.

"We have to move on without him," Carlyle said. "That's what depth is and we knew that was going to a part of it when you play the number of games that we're scheduled to play early in the season."

Video: WSH@PIT: Malkin slips puck around Holtby for a lead


Ducks projected lineup

Nick Ritchie -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Mason Raymond -- Antoine Vermette -- Nick Sorensen

Ryan Garbutt -- Chris Wagner -- Jared Boll

Cam Fowler -- Josh Manson

Korbinian Holzer -- Sami Vatanen

Jacob Larsson -- Kevin Bieksa

Jonathan Bernier

John Gibson

Scratched: Emerson Etem, Clayton Stoner

Injured : Simon Despres (upper body), Rickard Rakell (abdomen), Nicolas Kerdiles (concussion), Nate Thompson (Achilles)


Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Scott Wilson

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Conor Sheary -- Matt Cullen -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Eric Fehr -- Tom Sestito

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Mike Condon

Scratched: Derrick Pouliot

Injured : Sidney Crosby (concussion), Matt Murray (broken hand), Bryan Rust (undisclosed)


Status report

Kessel took a maintenance day Friday, but took part in the morning skate and is expected to play. … Rust, who is recovering from an undisclosed injury that held him out of training camp, also took part in the morning skate, but won't play. … The Ducks signed Rakell to a six-year contract extension Friday, but probably won't have him available for 1-2 weeks. He's skating but must obtain a work visa and is recovering from abdominal surgery last month.


Who's hot

Fleury made 39 saves in Pittsburgh's win against Washington on Thursday. It was his first win since March 31, when he sustained his second of two concussions last season. … Cogliano scored each of Anaheim's two goals in its loss to Dallas on Thursday. He scored nine goals in 82 games last season.

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