PITTSBURGH – For the second time in a month, the National Hockey League’s reigning MVP will miss at least a week due to injury.
Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin will be out for the next 1-2 weeks because of an upper-body injury, coach Dan Bylsma said after the Malkin-less Penguins beat the New York Islanders 6-1 Sunday at Consol Energy Center.
The precise nature of Malkin’s injury is not known, but Byslma did assert that Malkin does not have a concussion.
“That is not a concern, no,” Bylsma said before the game. “Just an upper-body injury.”
Bylsma was more specific with a timetable for Malkin’s return after the victory: “It will be one-to-two weeks, approximately, he will be out.”
Malkin sat out Sunday after not playing the final 2:20 of regulation or during overtime of Pittsburgh’s 5-4 shootout win in Toronto on Saturday night. He absorbed a hit from Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk along the boards in the neutral zone with about five minutes to play in regulation.
Malkin took one shift Saturday after van Riemsdyk’s check. Television cameras showed him telling Penguins training staff, “I’m alright” while on the bench.
After the game, Bylsma said Malkin was held out of overtime and the shootout for “precautionary” reasons.
The Toronto game was Malkin’s third back in the lineup a four-game absence due to a concussion sustained in the third period of a win against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 22. Malkin complained of temporary short-term memory loss after a collision with the boards behind the Florida net.
Malkin, however, was symptom-free within 48 hours and remained so for a week before being cleared to play. He had a goal and two assists in the three games since — all Penguins victories.
Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh extended its winning streak to five and improved to 3-2 without Malkin this season with its victory Sunday. At 18-8-0 overall, the Penguins trail the Montreal Canadiens by two points in the race for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.
Joe Vitale took Malkin’s place in the lineup Sunday, centering the fourth line. Dustin Jeffrey was promoted from that spot to Malkin’s usual position centering James Neal and rookie Beau Bennett against the Islanders.
A two-time Art Ross Trophy winner, Malkin has 24 points (five goals, 19 assists) in 21 games this season.
“It’s not a guy we’re going to replace,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby, who had five assists Sunday. “Everyone knows that.”
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