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Preview: Penguins at Coyotes

Evgeni Malkin likely in lineup for Pittsburgh; Martin Hanzal returns for Arizona

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

PENGUINS (34-13-6) at COYOTES (17-28-7)



Penguins team scope

Evgeni Malkin likely will return to the lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins after missing the past six games with a lower-body injury. Malkin took part in practice Friday and said afterward there was a good chance he would return. "We're certainly encouraged with the practice he had," coach Mike Sullivan said. "He felt strong. It was full contact for him. We'll see how he responds." Center Sidney Crosby needs two points to reach 1,000 in his NHL career. Crosby did not have a point in a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and hasn't gone without a point in back-to-back games in almost a year (Feb. 24-27, 2016). Crosby has six goals and 14 assists in 13 career games against the Arizona Coyotes. Forward Bryan Rust was injured on Thursday and won't play. Pittsburgh already is without Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary because of injuries. "They bring a lot of speed to our lineup," Sullivan said. "That's one of the reasons they're here. So when three of them go down at the same time, it's a challenge." The Penguins are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games.


Coyotes team scope

Center Martin Hanzal returns after missing a 5-4 overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday because of an illness. Defenseman Kevin Connauton will play for the first time since Jan. 19, and rookie Jakob Chychrun will be a scratch for the first time since Jan. 4. "Just give him a day off," coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a young player. He's still learning." Arizona is 4-2-1 in its past seven games but is looking for better starts at home, where they were outscored by a combined 5-0 in the first period the past two games. Forward Christian Dvorak had the first two multipoint games of his NHL career in the past three games and had his first two-goal game against Montreal. "He's grown into a regular (NHL) player," Tippett said. Goalie Mike Smith will make his eighth straight start. Forward Shane Doan will play in his 1,519th NHL game and pass Ray Bourque for fourth on the all-time list of games played with one franchise. He trails Gordie Howe, Alex Delveccio and Nicklas Lidstrom.


Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Matt Cullen -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Carter Rowney -- Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Josh Archibald, Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Carl Hagelin (concussion), Bryan Rust (undisclosed), Conor Sheary (upper body)


Coyotes projected lineup

Max Domi -- Martin Hanzal -- Radim Vrbata

Tobias Rieder -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Jamie McGinn

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Shane Doan

Lawson Crouse -- Jordan Martinook -- Ryan White

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Luke Schenn

Alex Goligoski -- Michael Stone

Kevin Connauton -- Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Jakob Chychrun, Peter Holland, Josh Jooris

Injured: Brad Richardson (broken leg)


Status report

Malkin would play with Wilson and Hornqvist. If he can't go, Archibald, who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre Scranton of the American Hockey League on Saturday, would draw into the lineup. ... Hagelin skated on his own Friday and is still status quo, according to Sullivan. ... Domi will play on the top line with Hanzal and Vrbata.


Who's hot

Kessel has five goals and five assists in the past nine games. ... Kunitz has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. ... Crosby has 27 points (nine goals) in the past 22 games. ... Dvorak has three goals in three games.

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