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Penguins at Devils preview

Malkin moves up to Pittsburgh top line to replace injured Crosby; Blackwood to start for New Jersey

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

PENGUINS (10-6-2) AT DEVILS (5-8-4)



The Game

Evgeni Malkin will play center on the Pittsburgh Penguins No. 1 line in place of the injured Sidney Crosby against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.

Crosby, the Penguins captain and leading scorer with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) is out at least six weeks after having surgery to repair a core muscle injury Thursday. 

Pittsburgh's retooled top line is expected to have Malkin between forwards Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. Center Jared McCann is expected to move up to the second line between forwards Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon.

Pittsburgh, 4-1-2 in its past seven games, also will be without defenseman Kris Letang and forward Patric Hornqvist, each out with a lower-body injury.

Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood will make his third straight start for the Devils, who are 3-4-2 in their past nine games. He's 3-2-0 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in his past five starts.


Players to watch

Malkin has six points (one goal, five assists) in a four-game point streak and 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 56 games against New Jersey.

Devils forward Wayne Simmonds has scored a goal in consecutive games.


They said it

"We have to work as a group and understand five guys on the ice can do it together, and if we're on the same page and buying into each other, I think we can be all right." -- Penguins center Nick Bjugstad on playing without injured center Sidney Crosby

"The Penguins have a lot of depth, they have a lot of very good players. They bring the same game all the time and they're very competitive. So when they have some of their big players out, they really bond well as a team and we know it's going to be a tough game." -- Devils coach John Hynes


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Dominik Kahun -- Jared McCann -- Dominik Simon

Alex Galchenyuk -- Nick Bjugstad -- Sam Lafferty

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Brian Dumoulin -- John Marino

Marcus Pettersson -- Justin Schultz

Jack Johnson -- Juuso Riikola

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Kris Letang (lower body), Patric Hornqvist (lower body)


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Jack Hughes -- Kyle Palmieri

Jesper Boqvist -- Nico Hischier -- Jesper Bratt

Blake Coleman -- Travis Zajac -- Nikita Gusev

Miles Wood -- Pavel Zacha -- Wayne Simmonds

Andy Greene -- Damon Severson

Will Butcher -- P.K. Subban

Mirco Mueller -- Matt Tennyson

Mackenzie Blackwood

Cory Schneider

Scratched: John Hayden, Colton White

Injured: Sami Vatanen (upper body), Connor Carrick (finger), Kevin Rooney (upper body)


Status report

Neither team held a morning skate. ... Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after practice on Thursday that Letang and Hornqvist are "making progress." ... The Devils placed Vatanen on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 8 and recalled defenseman White from Binghamton of the American Hockey League. 


Stat pack

Galchenyuk will become the first player from the 2012 NHL Draft to play 500 games. He also needs one point for 300 points in the League. … Pittsburgh is 97-54-21 in 172 games without Crosby in the lineup since he entered the NHL in 2005-06. ... Hall has 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 15 games against the Penguins.

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