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Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - 7:30 PM ET
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The Pittsburgh Penguins' rough stretch has been made even more difficult with an injury to Sidney Crosby. The Boston Bruins' are enduring a tough run of their own.

The Penguins get a third chance to fill the scoring void left by Crosby's absence when they host the sputtering Bruins on Monday night in the first of two meetings in less than a week.

Pittsburgh (26-13-4) is 5-5-2 since winning 12 games in a row.

The Penguins' task of reversing their current struggles, which include a 1-2-2 run in their last five games, has become tougher since Crosby was ruled out for at least four games with a concussion.

Crosby, who was initially hurt on a hit during a 3-1 loss to Washington in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, leads the league with 32 goals and 66 points, and his absence is being felt in a big way.

The Penguins have lost their first two games without him, following Thursday's 2-1 shootout defeat at Montreal with a 4-0 home loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

"Obviously we miss the best player in the game right now," left wing Pascal Dupuis said. "But I think we have a pretty deep team. We've just got to chip in, me included."

Some production from Evgeni Malkin could help Pittsburgh avoid matching its season-high three-game slide from Oct. 23-29.

The center, second on the team with 15 goals and third with 34 points, has 25 goals and 34 assists in 40 career games with Crosby sidelined. However, he's failed to get a point in the last two games, while having a minus-3 rating against the Wild.

Malkin is in the midst of a scoring slump with two goals and two assists in nine games, but he's had success against Boston (21-12-7). He has 10 goals and eight assists in 15 career meetings with the Bruins, scoring one goal and setting up five others in the last three.

Malkin had two assists in a 7-4 loss to Boston at Consol Energy Center on Nov. 10.

The Bruins are tied atop the Northeast Division with Montreal, but could have retained sole possession of first place if they didn't waste a two-goal lead with 2:22 left in regulation against the Canadiens on Saturday. They lost 3-2 in overtime - falling to 1-1-3 in their last five - and coach Claude Julien isn't happy with a point in the standings.

"Even though you gained a point, it's something that you should have come out with two and them with none," Julien told the team's official website.

"I think it's important to get right back on the horse," Julien said. "When you fall down you get right back up and we need to bounce back. It's really in our hands and how we react is up to us."

Pittsburgh will also have some control over the Bruins' next week, which includes a game between these teams Saturday in Boston.

The Penguins certainly hope these matchups go differently than the first meeting of 2010-11. The Bruins erased a two-goal deficit with five third-period tallies as Pittsburgh allowed a season high in goals.

Patrice Bergeron had two assists in that game and has 12 points in his last 11 games, including two goals Saturday.

This will be the first game against the Penguins for Bruins center Marc Savard since Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke leveled him with a blindside hit March 7. The resulting concussion left Savard out of Boston's first 23 games this season, and he's last on the team with a minus-8 rating.

Tagged: Bruins, Penguins, Marc Savard, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin

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