Lightning vs. Penguins Preview
Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier will be out of action and Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin may join him when the clubs face off at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Off to a sluggish start by his standards with 12 points in 15 games, Malkin was attended to by trainers twice during the Penguins' 7-4 loss to Boston on Wednesday.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Penguins –165 money line favorites in Friday's game against the Lightning. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 188 bets for this game have been placed on the Lightning +152.
The two-time All Star was held out of practice Thursday, and coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't say if he would be available against Tampa Bay.
"Maintenance. He's still dealing with bumps and bruises," Bylsma told the Penguins' official website. "He played a hard game (against Boston). He took a couple hard plays to the ice."
Meanwhile, Lecavalier, who has three goals and six assists on the season, broke his right hand in the first period of Thursday night's 6-3 loss at Washington. Tampa Bay's captain is expected to miss three to four weeks.
"He played for a long time with it because he didn't want to come off. He's a warrior, this guy. I'm impressed," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.
Lecavalier's absence could make the Penguins' task easier as they try to avoid their second three-game losing skid at their new home arena. They are 5-3-1 in road games but only 2-5-0 in Pittsburgh, where they've yielded at least one power-play goal in five straight contests.
Four of their next five games are at home, with the exception a contest Saturday night at Atlanta.
"We have a task of playing Friday and Saturday. We have a lot of games coming up here," Bylsma said. "We need to keep getting games from our players as we have been, in terms of being all in."
The Penguins (7-8-1) will likely need a top-caliber effort against the Lightning (8-5-2), who have won nine of their last 12 visits to Pittsburgh. They also beat the Penguins 5-3 at home Oct. 27, when Martin St. Louis had two goals and an assist.
St. Louis has 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 38 career games versus Pittsburgh.
Thursday's loss was the fourth in five games overall for Tampa Bay, which outshot the Capitals 41-26 but gave up four goals in the third period.
Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 14th goal in the defeat. Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone also scored for the Lightning.
"We had chances to win the game," Stamkos said. "We didn't bury opportunities. ... They come down and score. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Stamkos, who has four goals in his last three games, recorded three assists in the last meeting with Pittsburgh.
Dan Ellis made 20 saves Thursday night but allowed a season-high five goals as he fell to 4-3-2 on the season.
Ellis was credited with the win when these two teams met last month after he replaced Mike Smith, who allowed three first-period goals. Ellis held the Penguins scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Winger Steve Downie missed Thursday's loss to Washington with a back injury and is not expected to be available Friday night.