Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin for their upcoming three-game road trip, which begins on Tuesday evening against the Florida Panthers.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed after Sunday's 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning that Malkin had been diagnosed with a concussion that he suffered on Friday in a 3-1 victory over visiting Florida Panthers.
The reigning Hart Trophy winner was hurt following a collision with Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson as he fell and slid hard into the boards. He remained on the ice before eventually skating off under his own power.
"After the hit Evgeni suffered some short-term memory loss and therefore was diagnosed with a concussion," Bylsma said. "He's had no other symptoms. He's feeling fine and his memory is returning."
Bylsma added that Malkin would not travel with the Penguins for the start of their trip that goes through Florida, Carolina and Montreal. The 26-year-old has logged four goals and 17 assists in 18 games this season and was placed on injured reserve Monday.
Normally an injury to a player the caliber of Malkin would threaten to derail Pittsburgh's current momentum, but few teams if any have a player like Crosby they can lean on. A former MVP himself, Crosby has 11 points in his last six games as well as 23 in the past 14 contests. He is among the league leaders this season with 19 assists and 28 points.
Without Malkin on Sunday, Crosby led the charge against the Lightning with two goals and an assist. His 637 career points moved him into third place on Pittsburgh's all-time list, behind only Mario Lemieux (1,723) and Jaromir Jagr (1,079).
Despite his outstanding career, Crosby is still looking to get better.
"I think for everyone, we're all trying to improve," said Crosby after the win over the Bolts. "For me personally, I think there's still points, timing or pucks bouncing on you, you just want to get sharp, but I think if the work ethic's there and the effort's there than eventually that stuff will kind of come."
Marc-Andre Fleury added 27 saves and Beau Bennett scored the first goal of his NHL career in Sunday's win, Pittsburgh's fifth in six games. Bennett's tally also gave the Pens a power-play goal in 11 straight games.
Pittsburgh scored once in four chances on the man advantage in Friday's win over Florida, with Malkin getting an assist on that goal by Chris Kunitz. Fleury added 22 saves as the Pens beat the Panthers for a third straight time.
The Penguins have also won eight of nine and 11 of the previous 13 encounters while taking three of the last four played in Florida.
Jacob Markstrom made his first start of the season and seventh of his career for the Panthers in that game, posting 37 saves. He then made his second straight start on Sunday, giving up three goals on 31 shots in a 4-1 setback to the Boston Bruins.
Florida had 35 shots in the game, but failed to crack the scoreboard after Tomas Kopecky's first-period goal. The Panthers also came up empty on a four- minute power play that bridged the second and third periods. They have scored just once in their last 24 opportunities on the man advantage.
"Our issue tonight was not being able to execute getting the puck into their zone," said Panthers coach Kevin Dineen. "There's simple ways and other ways that are a little more difficult and we made it more harder on ourselves. Simple is always the best way and unfortunately we weren't able to put it together."
Florida fell to 1-4-3 in its last eight and dropped its fifth in a row at home in the opener of a three-game residency.
The Panthers played without defenseman Filip Kuba on Sunday due to an upper body injury as he joined the likes of Ed Jovanovski (knee), Scottie Upshall (ankle) and Kris Versteeg (chest) on the sidelines.