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Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos Vie for Points Lead as Pittsburgh Penguins Host Tampa Bay Lightning

February 24th, 2012 at 8:03 AM
By Sports Media 101

Michelle Maxson, Penguins101.com Guest Writer

In their final match-up of the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a third win from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon at Consol Energy Center to kick off yet another back-to-back weekend schedule.

The Lightning (27-27-6) conquered the Pens back in November with a 4-1 win at the St. Pete Times Forum. Lightning goal tender, Dwayne Roloson was named “top performer” with a .097 save percentage.

The Penguins (34-21-5) bounced back with a 6-3 win in January. The star of this game was Evgeni Malkin with his eighth career hat-trick and fifth five-point game.

Richard Park scored the other goal.

Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang each scored a goal and Malkin netted two goals to give the Penguins a 4-2 win over the Lightning on February 12 at Consol. 

The Penguins have been missing players during the entire season, so why should Saturday be any different? 

The Penguins will be missing their Captain, Sidney Crosby as well as Tyler Kennedy. Both players are on the Injured Reserve list. 

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma told the Official Penguins website:

Brooks Orpik, after two days of practice, is still day-to-day.  … Brent Johnson left practice a little bit early (Thursday), tweaked something. He is day-to-day at this point." 

Matt Niskanen is also day-to-day but hopeful to play in tomorrow’s game. Niskanen told the Penguins' reporters:

"I hope I'm ready to go (Saturday). Nothing is official yet. I'm feeling a lot better today than the last couple of days, so I think I'll be ready for tomorrow."

With Orpik sitting with an "upper-body" injury and no call-ups from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it's safe to pencil in Niskanen for the Lighting game.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will be missing Vincent Lecavalier who is out with a broken hand. 

While tomorrow’s game will certainly be competitive with only 22 games remaining in the regular season, there is another on-going competition between Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos for points.  The two stars are currently tied at 73. 

Malkin gained the lead by three points Tuesday in the matchup against the New York Rangers with a goal and an assist on Steve Sullivan's goal, which was the 300th of Malkin’s career. 

Then on Thursday, Stamkos caught up to Malkin with a goal and two assists against Winnipeg, even though it wasn’t enough to win the game for the Lightning.

Tags: Evgeni Malkin, Hockey, NHL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Penguins, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

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