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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 16th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (17-14-3) at Pittsburgh Penguins (23-10-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - It seems like injuries and suspensions have caused the Pittsburgh Penguins' roster to undergo turnover after almost every game, but the club is still finding ways to win.
The Penguins look to shake off their latest misfortunes on Monday night and secure a fourth straight victory as they play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pittsburgh has already lost 161 man-games to injury this season and has seen a number of players go do recently with injury. That includes center Andrew Ebbett to a broken ankle, defenseman Brooks Orpik with a head injury and blueliner Kris Letang with an undisclosed ailment, while forward James Neal is currently serving a five-game suspension.
And then there is forward Evgeni Malkin, whose status for this game is unknown after he left Saturday's 4-1 win over Detroit early with a lower-body ailment. Malkin had to be helped off the ice after crashing leg first into the boards.
Malkin had a goal and two assists before his exit to surpass 600 career points, while Sidney Crosby scored twice in the win, Pittsburgh's eighth in nine games.
"You hate to see that. It is something we've all dealt with before. You just have to hope it is not too bad. I'm sure we will know more as the week goes on," Crosby said of Malkin.
Crosby tops the NHL with 46 points and is tied for third with 28 assists, while Malkin leads all skaters with 32 assists and is third with 41 points.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland also missed most of Saturday's game after receiving a match penalty for a hit on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader with 30 seconds left in the first period. Engelland has an in-person hearing scheduled for Wednesday that will likely result in a suspension.
With Malkin's status up in the air and Letang landing on injured reserve Monday, the Penguins recalled defenseman Philip Samuelsson and forward Harry Zolnierczyk from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
Toronto is looking to get things going after snapping a three-game slide with Saturday's 7-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The line of Joffrey Lupul, Peter Holland and Mason Raymond combined for 11 points and Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves.
Lupul finished with two goals and a pair of assists, Holland scored twice and assisted on another goal and Raymond logged four helpers.
"We seemed to click tonight," Holland said. "Obviously getting that first one kind of kick-started things for us and it just kind of seemed we kept finding each other all night. We had a lot of fun playing together tonight."
Toronto saw defenseman and captain Dion Phaneuf return after serving a two- game suspension for a boarding call versus Boston on Dec. 8, though forward David Clarkson sat out the first contest of his two-game ban for an illegal check in last Thursday's loss to St. Louis.
The Maple Leafs and Penguins have split a pair of meetings this season, with both clubs picking up a victory at home, and Toronto has lost five of its past seven in Pittsburgh, including a 6-5 shootout decision on Nov. 27.
The Maple Leafs are set to begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday and are likely to give starts to both Bernier and James Reimer over the next two games.
Bernier faced the Pens for the first time in his career on Nov. 27 and allowed five goals on 48 shots faced. Reimer is 4-0-2 with a 2.27 goals against average in six meetings versus the Pens, making 37 saves in a 4-1 victory at home on Oct. 26.
With backup Jeff Zatkoff making 28 saves in the win over Detroit, Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to start tonight. He has faced the Maple Leafs twice this season, getting lifted early in the second period of the Nov. 27 win after yielding three goals on 11 shots.
In his career versus the Leafs, Fleury is 13-9-3 with a 3.23 GAA in 27 games (24 starts).
12/16 10:35:30 ET
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