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Penguins look for scoring punch with Crosby, Malkin out

| Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011

Sidney Crosby has a concussion that is severe enough to keep him out of an eighth consecutive game tonight when the Penguins meet the Carolina Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center.

Evgeni Malkin has a sore knee and pressure building inside his head from a sinus infection. He will miss his second game in a row.

Meanwhile, the Penguins are hoping to recover from a 2-0 loss Thursday to the New Jersey Devils, the last-place team in the Atlantic Division. It was the Penguins' second shutout in less than two weeks with Crosby sidelined.

What happens when a team loses its two best players?

"It puts a lot of burden on a lot of guys," rookie center Mark Letestu said.

For the first time since Malkin joined the team in 2006, the Penguins must find their way without Malkin and Crosby, possibly until after the All-Star break next weekend.

Center Mike Rupp said playing without those players changes situations the Penguins used to take for granted.

"We have to be a little more aware of the little things on the ice," he said. "With those guys in the lineup, you can get away with a little bit more because you can get an early lead in the game and be up a couple goals.

"In a game where we are losing two of our biggest scorers, it's going to be a tighter game, and one goal is a big goal to come back from."

Rupp said the Penguins could emerge from this period a better team.

"It gives us the opportunity to, maybe as individuals, look at doing the little details that really add up and help us win hockey games," he said.

Those details, he said, include "managing the puck the right way, doing our system the right way and playing the percentages.

"If you get a lead in the game, maybe not looking for that next goal, if it's a high-risk play. We still want to play the same style, aggressive, but pick our spots a little bit more."

Letestu handles some of Crosby's duties, but he said the pressure doesn't bother him.

"This is the role I need to fill if I want to be on this team," he said. "It's an opportunity, a challenge. I get to see what I am made of. No one is trying to be Sid. He is amazing. I am just trying to fill in the best I can."

Letestu said the Penguins made Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur's job too easy, forcing him to make only 23 saves.

"We didn't give Brodeur enough work," he said.

Rookie center Dustin Jeffrey, who was recalled from the Wilkes-Barre minor-league team three times during the recent personnel shortage, said switching the pressure to the other team may help.

"It is hard to make up what they bring to the ice," he said, "but we have to do a better job of creating more chances."

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