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Penguins' Malkin to miss 2-3 weeks with foot injury

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 12:09 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin carries the puck against the Blues on Sunday, March 23, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin plays against the Blues on Sunday, March 23, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin skates againt the Maple Leafs Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

Evgeni Malkin can't catch a break. Neither can the Penguins.

On one of his hottest streaks of the season, Malkin will miss two to three weeks with a foot injury. The Penguins are optimistic he'll be ready to play when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 16.

Coach Dan Bylsma confirmed the injury took place around the net on Malkin's first shift against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. He played the remainder of the game without any apparent problem.

Bylsma, along with a number of other sources close to Malkin, confirmed to the Tribune-Review that surgery doesn't appear necessary.

“The doctors don't indicate that's the case,” Bylsma said.

Malkin was playing some of his finest hockey of the season before the injury, producing four goals and two assists in a two-game span following a conversation with captain Sidney Crosby that apparently revitalized his confidence following a disappointing Olympic experience in Sochi, Russia.

Malkin had missed nine games earlier this season because of a leg injury suffering in Detroit and two games because of an injury that occurred during a morning skate.

Malkin was injured in December after a scoring binge that started in late November and is again being slowed by an injury while on a hot streak.

“He had a strong couple of games,” Bylsma said. “It's disappointing. I'd like him to remember and watch the last couple of games in terms of how he was playing.”

Center Brandon Sutter will replace Malkin on the second line with left wing Jussi Jokinen and right wing James Neal.

“You just want to play the same way and just be solid defensively,” Sutter said. “Playing with (Neal) and (Jokinen), the offensive side will take care of itself. It's more the defensive part that I've got to make sure I'm still sharp with. Hopefully create some more offensively.”

Bylsma has wanted to tinker with his lineup, and playing Sutter with Jokinen was something he had in mind. Now he'll get his chance to see those two together, though not on the terms he would have preferred.

“We put them on a line together in Anaheim, and it was our best line in that game,” Bylsma said. “We wanted to see the possibility of Jokinen and Sutter as a duo. We're going to see that now.”

Malkin and Neal represent one of hockey's most lethal duos. The Penguins believe they will be reunited in time for the playoffs.

“Any time if you lose a player like (Malkin), it's a big part of the team,” Jokinen said. “But at the same time, we have dealt with lots of injuries during the year. And that might be the case, too, in the playoffs when we're losing one of our big names to injury. We still need to find ways to win games, and I think we have done that thus far this season. We just have to keep doing that.”

Other Penguins to suffer significant injuries this season include Pascal Dupuis, Neal, Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett, Chris Conner and Tomas Vokoun.

Jayson Megna was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier Tuesday and began the game against the Phoenix Coyotes on the fourth line Glass and Craig Adams.

The domino effect on the power play had Olli Maatta on the top unit and rugged defenseman Orpik on the point of the second unit.

Josh Yohe and Chris Adamski are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Yohe at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @JoshYohe_Trib. Reach Adamski at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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