Short-handed Pens look to keep mastery of Bruins (Jan 26, 2017)

BY AP • January 25, 2017

BOSTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be short-handed on Thursday when they visit the Boston Bruins for the second meeting between the teams in five nights.

With Kris Letang already out and set to miss his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury, both Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist missed practice Wednesday with lower-body injuries. Malkin will be out until after the weekend All-Star break while Hornqvist is day to day.

"(Malkin) will be evaluated after the break and we'll probably have more information at that point," coach Mike Sullivan said. "We'll see how (Hornqvist) responds after today, but he'll be a day-to-day decision."

The Penguins hammered the Bruins 5-1 on Sunday night for their fourth straight win, but then were stunned 3-0 by the St. Louis Blues two nights later. The setback was only their third regulation home loss all season.

They will face a Bruins' team that has been struggling but ended a four-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Trailing 3-2 after the second period, the Bruins managed only their second win of the season when down after two, improving to 2-16-3 in that scenario.

Word came down Wednesday that the Bruins may be short-handed as well. Brad Marchand, who scored twice on Tuesday and is headed for the All-Star Game in the midst of a hot streak (nine goals, 16 points in the last 11 games), will have a phone hearing Thursday for what the Player Safety Department calls a "dangerous trip" on Detroit's Nicklas Kronwall.

Marchand is a repeat offender who missed last year's Winter Classic due to suspension. No word on whether discipline this time around would affect the All-Star appearance.

The Boston win Tuesday quieted -- at least temporarily -- the storm clouds above the head of coach Claude Julien, who has faced steady speculation that his job is in jeopardy.

The win lifted the Bruins to just 11-12-0 on home ice this season and a win in this pre-break finale could go a long way toward setting the stage for the rest of the season.

David Pastrnak broke a 17-game goal-scoring drought with the OT winner Tuesday -- after going 65 straight shots on goal without a score.

"There's not much you can do," he said after finally scoring his 20th of the season. "You've got to play the right way, and obviously it's always going to be back in your hat. But, I always have guys that will help me and support me all the time. Also, when I had that stretch with a lot of goals, I said that might happen that I might not score for a couple games, and it was more than a couple. But it was really nice to get that one and especially to win."

St. Louis' Carter Hutton pitched the shutout in Pittsburgh, marking the third time this season the high-powered Penguins (30-12-5, third in the Metropolitan) were blanked.

"I just thought it was a night where it was a struggle for our team," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "It was one of those nights where I don't think we had a lot of jump. As a result, we didn't execute as well."

Tuukka Rask was the losing goalie Sunday night, allowing two goals in one period before leaving with a migraine. He was back and won Tuesday night and is 8-6-2 with a 2.25 goals against average and .929 save percentage lifetime against the Penguins -- 0-1-1 this season.

Matt Murray made 44 saves against the Bruins Sunday night and is 2-0-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in two games against Boston.

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