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Game 19 Preview: Lightning Vs. Penguins

By: Casey Shea
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to town tonight, but will be without the services of Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin will not be in the lineup after crashing back-first into the end boards during the Penguins’ 3-1 win over the Panthers on Friday.

Malkin was streaking to the net and was cleanly hit by defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He is believed to be experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

After the team’s practice on Saturday, head coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin was still being evaluated. A timetable for his return is not yet known.

His 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) are second on the team.

Now, the Penguins must turn their attention to life without Malkin and that starts tonight with Tampa Bay.

The Lightning (9-7-1, 19 points) currently lead the Southeast Division, but are only 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

However, a four-goal third period helped them knock off the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night. Former Penguin Mathieu Garon made 32 saves in the win.

It should come as no surprise that Steven Stamkos leads the team with 26 points in 17 games. Those 26 points also lead the league and he’s tied for the league lead in goals with 12.

Martin St. Louis isn’t far behind with 23 points (four goals, 19 assists)in 17 games.

With Garon starting last night, it would seem likely that Anders Lindback (7-4-1, 3.12 GAA, .895 save percentage) will get the nod tonight.

Lindback has never faced the Penguins, but has struggled on the road this year. In five appearances, Lindback is just 1-3 with a 3.81 GAA and .877 save percentage.

With Malkin out, it will be Sidney Crosby’s turn to shoulder more of the load.

Crosby’s 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) are just one behind Stamkos, while James Neal is tied with Stamkos with 12 goals.

In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury (9-3-0, 2.22 GAA, .917 save percentage) improved to 7-1 in the month of February by stopping 22 shots Friday night.

Fleury is 11-10-3 with a 2.37 GAA and .913 save percentage against the Lightning in his career.

According to the Penguins’ official website, the last time the Lightning won in Pittsburgh was on March 31, 2010.

The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. and you can watch it on Root Sports.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice

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