The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting closer to being healthy, but for now, they continue to rely on Evgeni Malkin.
The NHL's scoring leader looks to bounce back from his first scoreless outing in 11 games as the Penguins host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
|Anton Volchenkov (left) tries to keep Evgeni Malkin in check. Malkin had his first scoreless outing in 11 games in Saturday's overtime loss to the Senators. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Malkin had posted eight goals and 16 assists in his previous 10 games before being held without a point in Saturday's 4-3 loss to visiting Ottawa. The 21-year-old center, who leads the league with 82 points, had scored a goal in six of his previous seven games but was so frustrated after missing on three scoring chances during a second-period shift that he broke his stick.
"He caused some problems, but we were able to keep him off the score sheet," Ottawa goalie Ray Emery said.
Malkin has helped pick up the slack while reigning MVP Sidney Crosby has been out with an ankle sprain. Since Crosby's last game on Jan. 18, Malkin has 12 goals and 18 assists in 16 contests, leading the Penguins (35-21-6) to a 9-4-2 record.
Crosby, who has 20 goals and 43 assists in 46 games, has been out five weeks. He was initially told he would be out six to eight weeks.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has not played since Dec. 6 because of a high ankle sprain, is scheduled to be recalled from a minor-league rehab assignment on Sunday. However, he won't be available for this game.
The Penguins will be trying to rebound from their first loss in four games. Petr Sykora, Colby Armstrong and Jeff Taffe all scored Saturday for Pittsburgh, which squandered a three-goal lead.
"We kind of let it slip away, especially in the first getting that many power plays that early," forward Ryan Malone said. "We kind of needed to bury the hatchet there. ... You've got to be disappointed in the fact that we did blow a three-goal lead and we're going to have to learn from that."
Pittsburgh trails New Jersey by one point for the Atlantic Division lead.
The Penguins are 1-9-0 with one tie in their last 11 game against the Sharks (32-21-8), losing the last three - all in San Jose. This is the first meeting in Pittsburgh since a 4-1 Penguins' win on Nov. 23, 2002.
The Sharks ended a season-high five-game losing streak Thursday with a 3-1 victory at Philadelphia.
"It's not that we've been playing poorly. We just haven't been able to score," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "Fortunately, we kept our composure and our poise and got the job done in the third period."
Douglas Murray and Milan Michalek scored 42 seconds apart early in the third period for the Sharks, who are playing the fifth game on an eight-game road trip. Murray's goal, his first in the NHL, came in his 115th game.
Goalie Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for his 32nd win, good for second in the league behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.
"Now is the time to start building on a winning streak," Murray said.