Forward Pascal Dupuis isn’t letting the Pittsburgh Penguins use
the absences of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as an excuse for
going into an offensive rut.
In their first game without their All-Star duo, it looked like a
pretty valid one.
The Penguins try to bounce back from being shut out for the
second time this month Saturday night against the visiting Carolina
Hurricanes, who wrap up a rough five-game stretch against teams
above them in the Eastern Conference.
Just when it looked like Pittsburgh (29-15-4) was getting the
hang of playing without Crosby, it found out after Tuesday’s 4-1
win over Detroit that Malkin was dealing with a left knee
That kept him and Crosby, who has a concussion, out of the
lineup Thursday against New Jersey. It was the first time in 437
games since Malkin entered the league that the Penguins were
without both former Art Ross Trophy winners.
Pittsburgh didn’t fare well Thursday, managing just 23 shots
against Martin Brodeur in a 2-0 loss, its second shutout in six
“You can’t use that (as an excuse),” Dupuis told the league’s
official website. “It’s the NHL, and injuries are part of the game.
I think we’re a good enough team in here to have a better
performance than we had tonight. I don’t think we were ready.”
Coach Dan Bylsma said Friday that Crosby is “progressing, but
not symptom free,” while Malkin is dealing with a sinus infection
in addition to a sore knee.
That makes it extremely likely that both will be out again
Saturday – bad news considering the duo accounted for six of
Pittsburgh’s seven goals in two wins against Carolina (23-18-6)
earlier this season.
“We don’t like seeing guys out – especially our top guys – but
if we do play our system right, we can make sure that no matter
who’s in the lineup, we’re winning,” defenseman Paul Martin
The Hurricanes have been about as healthy as a team can hope to
be, with Jussi Jokinen’s six-game absence earlier this month the
only time one of their top six scorers has been out of the
Jokinen, who had two goals and two assists in a 5-4 shootout
loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 19, has been on quite a tear since
returning Jan. 11. He has six goals and three assists in his last
six games and scored the winner in Thursday’s 4-1 victory against
the New York Rangers.
Coach Paul Maurice was rather pleased with the way his team
responded after being outscored 10-2 in a home-and-home series with
Boston earlier in the week.
“What I thought you saw tonight was a real good look at the
leadership in our room,” Maurice said.
Carolina pulled within two points of Atlanta for the eighth
playoff spot in the East, and even with Pittsburgh missing Crosby
and Malkin, Saturday should provide a solid test. The Hurricanes
are 6-11-3 against the eight teams ahead of them in the
Saturday will be Carolina’s first look this season at
Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal, who has played nine games since making
his season debut following hand surgery.
Staal has three goals and three assists in his last four games,
but he only has two goals and four assists in 16 contests against
the team his brother captains.
Eric Staal has 26 points in 25 regular-season games versus
Pittsburgh. When he scores a goal in the series, Carolina is