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Penguins without Malkin for key game against Rangers

New York missing captain McDonagh, forward Nash because of injuries

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

RANGERS (30-18-5) at PENGUINS (27-18-7) 

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN 

PITTSBURGH - Center Evgeni Malkin will miss his fourth straight game when the Pittsburgh Penguins face the New York Rangers Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. 

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday that Malkin's lingering lower-body injury will keep him out for at least another week. He confirmed Malkin would not travel for a road trip at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Monday. 

Pittsburgh, which held an optional morning skate Wednesday, has won its past two games without Malkin, 3-2 in overtime against Florida on Saturday and 6-2 against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, so its lineup shouldn't alter much. Matt Cullen is expected to center the second line for a fourth time between left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel.  

"When you've got a guy like [Malkin] out, it's a big hole to fill and no one person can fill it," Cullen said. "He's such a unique player. So, as a group we need to hold it together. I think we have enough guys playing well that hopefully, as a team, we can fill that hole like we have here." 

Hagelin will face his former team for the second time this season, and the first time with the Penguins. In Game 5 of New York's Eastern Conference First Round series win against Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, Hagelin scored the series-clinching goal 10:52 into overtime. 

"Tonight is like any other night," Hagelin said. "There are small things that I know that I can let my teammates know about." 

The Rangers will try to defeat Hagelin and the Penguins without their captain, Ryan McDonagh, who missed their 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Monday with a concussion, and forward Rick Nash, who hasn't played since Jan. 22 because of a bone bruise in his left leg. 

New York didn't hold a morning skate Wednesday, so any changes to its lineup remain unknown. 

The Rangers have won four of their past six games, including three straight, since Nash's injury. New York is second in the Metropolitan division, three points ahead of the New York Islanders and four ahead of Pittsburgh. 

Forward J.T. Miller has picked up the slack in Nash's absence, scoring five goals in six games since Jan. 22. Miller scored the game-deciding goal 4:37 into the third period against the New Jersey Devils on Monday. 

"I had a little bit of experience with J.T when he was just a young player," said Sullivan, a former Rangers assistant coach. "He's obviously a very good player. We recognized that when we coached him as a young player. … As he's maturing, he's figuring out how to be successful in this League." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

RANGERS 

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast  

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello  

Oscar Lindberg - Kevin Hayes - Viktor Stalberg  

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Daniel Paille  

Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi  

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein  

Dan Boyle - Dylan McIlrath  

Henrik Lundqvist  

Antti Raanta  

Injured: Rick Nash (bone bruise), Ryan McDonagh (concussion) 

Scratched: None 

PENGUINS 

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist  

Carl Hagelin - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel 

Tom Kuhnhackl - Oskar Sundqvist - Bryan Rust  

Scott Wilson - Kevin Porter - Conor Sheary  

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang  

Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin  

Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot  

Marc-Andre Fleury  

Jeff Zatkoff  

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion), Eric Fehr (lower body) 

Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole  

Status report: Sullivan did not provide an update on Bennett's status Tuesday. Bennett has played one game since Dec. 14 because of an upper-body injury. … New York assigned former Penguins forward Jayson Megna to Hartford of the American Hockey League on Feb. 5. 

Who's hot: Crosby continued one of the most impressive stretches of his career Monday, when he scored four points and two goals against the Ducks. He is sixth in NHL scoring and leads the Penguins with 53 points. … Miller has 10 points and nine goals in his past 10 games. 

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