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Opponents targeting Penguins star Malkin with plenty of size

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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin was targeted by the Buffalo Sabres' biggest forward Sunday, a familiar approach for stopping the league's scoring leader. But that strategy isn't working as well as it once did, coach Dan Bylsma said Monday.

"Geno has done a real good job with guys who have targeted him physically," he said. "In the past years, he may have responded after the whistle in a way that was probably detrimental to his game. He's really been focused."

The Sabres matched Malkin's line with forwards Paul Gaustad, Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe, with the 6-foot-5, 212-pound Gaustad shadowing the Penguins star. Malkin had five shots and assisted on Deryk Engelland's goal, but it was his third straight game without a goal.

Bylsma said Malkin has learned to better use his body to create space and protect the puck. At 6-3, Malkin is hardly small.

"He wins the physical battle a lot of times," Bylsma said. "That's something that, playing against a bigger body like Gaustad, he's going to have to deal with. But he still creates the room and still creates scoring opportunities."

> > Malkin, forwards James Neal and Matt Cooke and defenseman Brooks Orpik did not participate in Monday's practice. Bylsma said they were missing for maintenance days of "varying degrees" and are suffering from "varying bumps and bruises" that might cause a lineup change today against the New York Rangers. Cooke's left arm was hit by a Chris Kunitz shot Sunday.

> > Forward Eric Tangradi was recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He's scoreless in 12 games with the Penguins this season.

> > As expected, captain Sidney Crosby did not practice with the team, instead skating beforehand.

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