Injury sidelines Jordan Staal -- for now
TORONTO -- Playing at arguably the highest level of his career, Penguins center Jordan Staal's fast start has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.
The Penguins scratched Staal for Saturday night's game at Toronto, but coach Dan Bylsma said he did not expect the injury to be a "long-term" problem, describing Staal as "day to day."
Staal's setback continued the Penguins' injury see-saw, particularly at what was the team's position of strength -- center.
Captain Sidney Crosby remains out with concussion symptoms. Evgeni Malkin finally appears to be healthy, having played in his third consecutive games, but he has said his knee issues might linger and that taking off frequent practices is likely. Dustin Jeffrey only recently returned to the lineup since recovering from a right ACL injury.
"We're getting used to it," said defenseman Kris Letang. "It's too bad for Jordan. He has been playing great hockey."
Staal had scored six goals through the team's first 12 games and led the Penguins' penalty-killing unit to an almost perfect start.
"Malkin and Staal are two of the league's top 10 centers," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "Staal is playing great hockey for them."
The Penguins have played with only one of their big three centers in the lineup in seven of 13 games this season.
"We're a team," Letang said. "We just have to overcome it."
Crosby, Malkin and Staal have dressed for the same game in just two of the Penguins' past 102 games, including the postseason. The Penguins, however, have produced a 60-32-10 record during that stretch.
Bylsma confirmed that Staal was injured during the second period Thursday against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center in a collision with Islanders star John Tavares. Staal left the bench briefly but did not miss a shift.
"It would definitely help to have all of those guys in the lineup," left wing Chris Kunitz said of Crosby, Staal and Malkin. "But this is still an opportunity for all of us to keep playing well. You have to keep playing."