Penguins notebook: Malkin will not play today


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Center Evgeni Malkin will miss his third game in a row today when the Penguins play the Calgary Flames in an afternoon game at Consol Energy Center, coach Dan Bylsma said Friday.

Malkin has an unspecified injury, and Bylsma seemed pessimistic that Malkin would play before the NHL's Christmas break. The only other game before then is Monday at Ottawa.

Another in the long list of injured Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang, did not practice Friday and had a cast or wrap on his left arm, starting above the wrist. Letang has missed the past four games and isn't expected to return until after Christmas.

Two other injured players practiced again Friday and are getting close to their return.

Winger Tanner Glass, who had a broken right hand, did not rule out playing today.

"It's a possibility," he said. "It's just a matter of being comfortable holding my stick. I just feel a little bit weak gripping it right now."

Perhaps just behind him on the recovery route is defenseman Rob Scuderi, who had surgery in late October for a broken left ankle.

"I feel good," Scuderi said. "It's just waiting for the doctors to give me clearance for contact."

In awe of Crosby's pass

Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta stole the show Thursday with a breakaway and subsequent penalty-shot goal in a 5-2 win against Minnesota, but there was another play that had the Penguins in awe even a day later.

In the second period, NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby set up Chris Kunitz for the team's fourth goal when he got the puck in the right corner -- it had been sent around the end boards by defenseman Matt Niskanen -- and sent a no-look backhanded pass to Kunitz, who was driving to the net.

"I don't know how he sees me," Kunitz said. "I'm just trying to come down and beat my guy to the net and sure enough it ends up hitting me right on the tape.

"I kind of followed the puck around [visually], gave him a little yell, but I think the puck was already gone [from Crosby's stick] before I even yelled for it."

For Bylsma, the play was a little like fine wine -- it got better with time.

"I watched it live. Watched it again on a replay. Then [Friday] morning, watching it again, it even got better," Bylsma said. "You talk about him knowing and locating Chris Kunitz before the play really materializes ...

"But I think the play getting the puck along the wall on the rim around the dasher and getting that to his backhand and then making the play [made it more impressive]. I didn't really see the play [initially], how he got it off the dasher. It's going around there. It's spinning on the wall. It's a hard play just to get it off the dasher and onto your stick, let alone then in the same motion pass it right out in front [of the net].

"So that one I'm not even sure I appreciated it until I watched it several times how great of a play that was. It was in the back of the net before you could quite realize how creative a play that was."

More on Maatta

Maatta, who also had an assist against Minnesota, had a couple of special guests in the audience. His mother, Tiina, and older brother Eero were in town and watching him live in the NHL for the first time. They are in town for the holidays.

"It's nice to have some family over," Maatta said.

Maatta originally was credited with an assist on the Penguins' opening goal, but there was a scoring change, so he had to settle for a goal and an assist, matching his season and career high of two points.

"It doesn't really matter," Maatta said. "I take more pride in defense, what we do as a group."

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Maatta is the first NHL rookie defenseman to score on a penalty shot since Toronto's Bob Goldham did it March 7, 1942 against the New York Rangers.

Maatta also is the first defenseman to score on a short-handed penalty shot since Kimmo Timonen, then of Nashville, did it Nov. 18, 1999 against Montreal.

Tip-ins

The Penguins made their annual holiday visit to Children's Hospital after practice. ... Calgary coach Bob Hartley on another Crosby attribute: "I watched their practice, and he was the best worker out there. When I was in Colorado, Joe Sakic was my best worker. It's not too tough to instill a great work ethic when your best player is your hardest worker."


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.

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