Penguins go for fifth straight win vs. Lightning
Malkin out for Pittsburgh; Paquette expected to play for Tampa Bayby Corey Long @CoreyLong / NHL.com Correspondent
PENGUINS (25-17-7) at LIGHTNING (28-18-4)
TV: ROOT, FS-F, NHL.TV
TAMPA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to extend their winning streak to five games when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Friday. (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, ROOT, SUN, NHL.TV).
Pittsburgh (25-17-7) will be without center Evgeni Malkin, who stayed in Pittsburgh because of a lower-body injury and will miss at least the next two games.
Malkin leads the Penguins with 23 goals and 49 points. The Penguins also will be without center Eric Fehr, who is expected to miss at least a month because of a lower-body injury.
Center Matt Cullen will replace Malkin on the Penguins' second line, joining Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel
"I've played with both guys a little and hopefully we can have some success [Friday]," Cullen said. "It's fun to play with guys like that. They get up and down the ice and the game today is all about speed. I hope I can keep up with them."
Pittsburgh called up center Oskar Sundqvist from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Thursday and he will make his NHL debut Friday.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he expects Sundqvist's style of play to be difficult to defend.
"He's a pretty solid two-way player, he has good awareness in the [defensive zone]," Sullivan said. "He's a big body (6-foot-3, 209 pounds), and for a big guy he can skate. I think his game that he plays down there will transfer [to the NHL]. I don't think he's going to dazzle you with flashy plays but I think he's a guy that plays the game the right way."
Tampa Bay (28-18-4) has won nine of its past ten games (9-1-0), and seven straight at home to move to second in the Atlantic Division.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the Penguins are a dangerous team with or without Malkin.
"Obviously Malkin is a great player and last time they were here [a 5-4 overtime Lightning win Jan. 15], I thought he was the best player on the ice," Cooper said. "But right now they have won four straight. Their power play is on fire and [Sullivan] has them playing really well. They are just clicking on all cylinders right now."
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said the team has to continue playing well at both ends of the ice and limit the Penguins' opportunities.
"We have to control the puck and make plays when we have the opportunity," Hedman said. "Malkin is a world-class player and a big threat when he's on the ice. It's a big loss for them but they are scoring a lot of goals; Crosby had three [Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators]. They have a lot of guys that can score."
Ben Bishop, who won his 100th game with the Lightning on Wednesday, will get the start in goal. Marc-Andre Fleury will be in goal for the Penguins.
Here are the projected lineups:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Kevin Porter - Bryan Rust
Conor Sheary - Oskar Sundqvist - Scott Wilson
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Trevor Daley - Brian Dumoulin
Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot
Injured: Beau Bennett (upper body), Nick Bonino (hand), David Warsofsky (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (lower body), Eric Fehr (lower body)
Scratched: Sergei Plotnikov, Ian Cole
Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Erik Condra
Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman
Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn - Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Joel Vermin (hand)
Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault, Matthew Carle
Status report: The Penguins had more than 20 players on the ice for their optional skate. … Sundqvist said the biggest adjustment for him will be the speed of the game at the NHL level. ... Paquette is expected to play Friday after leaving the ice during practice Thursday because of an injured right foot sustained blocking a shot.
Who's hot: Crosby's hat trick against Tuesday gives him 20 goals for the season; it's the ninth time in 11 NHL seasons he's had at least 20. ... Kucherov had a goal and an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.