The Penguins had a pretty good evening Sunday at Consol Energy Center, when they defeated the New York Islanders, 6-1, to run their winning streak to five games.
And it probably got a whole lot better when they received an injury report on center Evgeni Malkin.
Coach Dan Bylsma, while not specifying the nature of Malkin's injury, said he is expected to be out of the lineup for one or two weeks.
Malkin was injured when he absorbed a hard hit from Toronto winger James van Riemsdyk Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
He missed four games recently because of a concussion and, a year after winning the NHL scoring championship, ranks fifth on the Penguins in points with 5 goals and 19 assists in 21 games.
New York Islanders left winger Matt Martin set an NHL record with 374 hits in 2011-12.
He won't match that feat this season because of the shortened season, but Martin looks like a pretty good candidate to lead the league again.
He entered Sunday with 124. That's 14 more than Toronto center Leo Komarov and Buffalo's Steve Ott, who were tied for second.
And while a fairly subjective statistic such as hits can be inflated by the off-ice officials in a particular arena, it's worth noting that Islanders right winger Colin McDonald was second on the team with 69, while Casey Cizikas was third with 37.
Indeed, the second, third and fourth players on New York's list of hitters had combined for just 16 more than Martin had.
"I've always been a physical player," Martin said. "It's something I knew I needed to do in order to make it to the NHL, or even to get drafted. It's kind of second nature to me to finish all my hits."
He added that, while he is aware of his hits total, he is "not going out of my way to finish every hit" simply to pad it.
"It's just something I've always done," he said, "and will continue to do."
Martin is 6 feet 3, 206 pounds, which means his checks can be punishing. Of course, such violent, frequent contact also can take a toll on the guy who's doing the hitting.
"You obviously get a little banged up from it, too, but that's what they pay me for," he said. "That's what I'm here to do.
"I know what I signed up for. ... If it's hurting me, I know it's definitely hurting the other guy."
Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun got his second start in the past six games Sunday night against the Islanders.
He was coming off a solid, though hardly spectacular, performance in the Penguins' 5-4 victory Thursday in Philadelphia, when he replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after the first period and stopped all 14 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes.
Vokoun had allowed six goals in his previous start, a 7-6 overtime victory in Montreal nine days ago, and had been replaced midway through the one before that, a 6-4 loss Feb. 24 at Florida.
"He's a guy who has responded with strong games in his career after ones that haven't gone so well," Bylsma said. "He did get the win in Montreal, but I think the performance in Philadelphia for those two periods, was strong, solid and confident, and something to build on for him."
Islanders out of position
The Islanders began Sunday with a two-point lead over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings, along with a game in hand.
That's something the Islanders would love most seasons, but it was good for just 10th place in the conference before they took on the Penguins.
Part of the problem is that, while New York was 6-3-1 in its first 10 away games, it is just 5-8-2 on the road. What's more, its away power play was the top-ranked one in the NHL, but it was middle-of-the-pack in games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"We've talked about that a lot," Islanders center John Tavares said.
Especially how, if they could replicate their away success on home ice, they would be well-positioned to get into the playoffs.
"We'd love to bring it more consistently at home," Tavares said. "When you're on the road, you know it's a tough environment. You're out of your comfort zone.
"You have to keep things simple, and really focus on doing the little things right, and we're doing that. ... We have to realize that has to be there for every game."
In addition to Malkin, the Penguins scratched defensemen Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo. ... Islanders defenseman Brian Strait, claimed off waivers Jan. 18 from the Penguins, is recovering from a broken ankle and is not expected to return until the final weeks of the regular season.mobilehome - penguins
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter: @MolinariPG. First Published March 11, 2013 4:00 AM