(SportsNetwork.com) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will take the ice minus their
captain again on Monday when they battle the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning
without the services of Sidney Crosby.
Crosby is the latest NHL player stricken with the mumps and he will miss a
third straight game with the illness tonight. Although the Penguins didn’t
officially announce their star forward had the mumps until Sunday, he was held
out of games on Friday and Saturday for what the club deemed a precautionary
Pittsburgh said Crosby should be through the infectious period by Monday.
“We’re concerned about it (spreading), it’s a disease that’s going throughout
the league,” said Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford on Sunday. “You just
don’t know how far it can spread. We’re watching this on a regular basis.”
Crosby has nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 27 games this season.
Pittsburgh got by without Crosby on Friday, downing the visiting Calgary
Flames by a 3-1 score. However, the Pens dropped a 4-3 shootout decision the
following night in Columbus.
The Pens, who lead the New York Islanders by two points for first in the
Metropolitan Division, have earned a point in four straight games (2-0-2).
They needed a goal from Kris Letang with less than 11 seconds remaining in
regulation to get Saturday’s contest to overtime.
Columbus would pick up the extra point, however, as Ryan Johansen was credited
with the game-winner in the shootout at Nationwide Arena.
Letang tallied twice, with both of his scores coming in the third period.
Before beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a slap shot with 10.9 seconds left in
regulation, he notched a short-handed goal at 7:22 of the period.
“We played really well in the third period,” Letang said. “We were really
after them. We earned that point.”
Blake Comeau also scored in the loss. Thomas Greiss stopped 24 pucks in 65
minutes of play but allowed two of three Columbus shooters to best him in the
Tampa Bay hopes to take advantage of the Crosby-less Pens tonight after losing
for the third time in four games Saturday evening against Washington. However,
Pittsburgh has dominated the Lightning recently, taking nine straight since
Tampa’s last win in the series on Nov. 17, 2011.
The Pens also have claimed seven straight and nine of the past 10 encounters
in the Steel City.
The Capitals downed the Lightning 4-2 behind a hat trick from Nicklas
Backstrom, as Tampa dropped the opener of a five-game road trip.
The Lightning made a valiant effort to push the game to overtime, but came up
short. Washington led 3-0 after Backstrom completed his hat trick just 2:17
into the third and the score remained that way until Tyler Johnson and Matt
Carle each scored in the final five minutes of regulation for the Bolts.
Tampa couldn’t notch the equalizer, however, and the Caps sealed the win with
Eric Fehr’s empty-net tally in the final minute.
Ben Bishop made 24 saves for Tampa Bay, which fell to 7-5-2 as the visiting
team this season.
Despite their recent struggles, the Lightning still find themselves tied with
Detroit for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Bolts can take sole
possession of the top spot by gaining at least a point tonight.
With Tampa also playing tomorrow night in Philadelphia, Bishop could get a
rest over the next two games. He is 0-2-0 with a 4.43 goals against average in
three career games against the Penguins, while backup Evgeni Nabokov is 11-6-0
with a lifetime 2.18 GAA over 18 outings versus Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury is 15-10-3 with a 2,39 in his career
The Pens are 10-4-1 as the host this season, while Tampa is just 7-5-2 as the