The Penguins, a team considered to be deep at center, are hurting at that position.
For the team's home opener Tuesday night against Florida, Evgeni Malkin missed his second game in a row because of unspecified "soreness," according to coach Dan Bylsma, while Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Dustin Jeffrey (knee) remained out.
Malkin has two goals and an assist in two games, but played sparingly in the third period Saturday at Calgary and sat out the game Sunday at Edmonton.
He went on the ice Tuesday for the Penguins morning skate but skipped line rushes and power-play drills, and was the first one off the ice.
"We do not think it's a long-term thing, other than just being sore at this point in time," Bylsma said, indicating that "day to day" is a good description.
Bylsma added that he was not aware of a specific incident Saturday that led to Malkin's situation, and he has said the problem is not related to surgery Malkin had on his right knee in February.
Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 5, said he expects to have a medical evaluation at some point this week, but that it is a routine check-in. Still, it's conceivable that at that time he will get clearance to have contact.
Since Sept. 17 when training camp practices began, Crosby has been practicing with the team without full contact, as he did again at the morning skate.
"Same as usual," he said. "I feel good."
Jeffrey, who had knee surgery late last season, has been practicing with contact and might be getting close to playing.
"Dustin Jeffrey is doing quite well," Bylsma said. "While he's skating and absorbing contact and being in those situations, he's got to continue to get stronger for his knee and for his leg strength."
The Penguins also continue to play -- and practice -- without veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik, who had offseason abdominal surgery after leading the team with 194 hits in 2010-11.
Orpik has not played in any preseason or regular-season games and recently has stopped practicing.
"He's improving," Bylsma said. "We just think it's better to be off the ice for a few days before he gets back on the ice."
After being the visitor for three home-opening ceremonies, the Penguins got to hold their own at Consol Energy Center before the game against the Panthers. Hitting heavily on their marketing slogan -- "A great day for hockey" -- the club aired a video with players relating childhood memories of the sport. Player introductions were accompanied by blue and white lasers.
The NHL reviewed Ryan Smyth's major elbowing penalty and game misconduct Sunday against Penguins winger Chris Kunitz late in the third period of Edmonton's 2-1 shootout win and decided no suspension was warranted.
Kunitz wasn't arguing.
"It's just one of those tough plays in hockey," Kunitz said.
Kunitz was about to hit Smyth along the boards near the left point as Smyth passed the puck, but got the brunt of the hit and smashed back-first into the boards.
"I wasn't sure if it was a stick or an elbow," Kunitz said.
Replays seemed to indicate it was both, Smyth's right elbow and then his stick.
"I fell pretty hard," Kunitz said. "I wasn't sure what happened. I knew I was cut on the lip. Too bad we couldn't capitalize and score on the power play."
The Penguins played the final 4:25 of regulation and the first 35 seconds of overtime on the power play.
The game against Florida was the Penguins' 208th consecutive sellout at home.
Penguins centers who sat out Tuesday night's home opener against Florida
Sidney Crosby Concussion
Evgeni Malkin Soreness
Dustin Jeffrey Knee
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly