Malkin injured in Penguins' 4-1 win
By Josh Yohe
Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 9:48 p.m.
DETROIT — Evgeni Malkin probably had thoughts of Sochi on his mind.
Dan Bylsma was probably figuring out who was left to send onto the ice.
The depleted Penguins received a potentially huge blow as Malkin, the NHL's hottest player and less than two months away from playing in the Olympics in his home country, left the ice in the third period during a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
Defenseman Kris Letang was a late scratch because of an upper-body injury, which left the Penguins without their regular top-four defensemen.
Malkin walked with a slight limp in the locker room following the game.
“He has a lower-body injury,” Bylsma said. “He was walking around after the game, but he'll get further evaluated (Sunday).”
Letang was vague about his upper-body injury. He absorbed a hit from New Jersey's Tim Sestito on Friday but finished the game. Letang was ruled out shortly before the game Saturday, and he isn't sure if his injury could be a long-term situation.
“We'll see,” he said. “I don't know what's going on right now.”
Malkin, who scored his ninth goal of the season and added two assists to surpass the 600-point mark for his career, was injured while attempting to thwart Detroit's two-on-one rush.
The only man back on the play, Malkin took a penalty to prevent a shot. While doing so, he fell awkwardly into the boards, with his feet taking the brunt of the collision.
Malkin, who had surgery for numerous torn ligaments in his right knee in February 2011, remained down for more than a minute. With assistance from teammates, Malkin left the ice without putting pressure on his left leg.
Earlier in the game, Malkin appeared to suffer a head injury after being involved in a Robert Bortuzzo-initiated collision.
However, after missing about four minutes of action after that collision, Malkin returned to the bench. He didn't return after the lower-body injury.
“You never like to see something like that,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “We've all been there before. I just hope it isn't anything too bad.”
The Penguins played the final two periods without defenseman Deryk Engelland, who was ejected and given a match penalty for striking Detroit's Justin Abdelkader in the head.
Engelland will have an in-person hearing with NHL Player Safety on Wednesday at league headquarters in Manhattan, meaning he is eligible for a suspension of more than five games. Engelland has a history, having been suspended for three games.
Bylsma said he was surprised Engelland received the match penalty because he didn't believe the defenseman intended to injure Abdelkader.
“I wasn't targeting anyone's head,” Engelland said.
With Engelland and Letang unavailable, the Penguins were down to five defensemen.
Matt Niskanen played a career-high 29:26, youngsters Simon Despres, Olli Maatta and Bortuzzo played well, and rookie Brian Dumoulin played a sturdy game in his NHL debut.
Crosby scored two goals and has 18 this season. The Penguins received two more goals from the league's top-ranked power play, and their red-hot penalty-killing unit was perfect again.
“It was a good win because we were low on bodies,” Crosby said. “Hopefully everyone is going to be OK.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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