The Pittsburgh Penguins will get a major boost when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete's Times Forum tonight. Injured superstar Sidney Crosby returns to the Pens’ lineup after missing 21 games with a high ankle sprain.
The Penguins played well with Sid the Kid on the shelf. Pittsburgh went 11-6-4, as forward Evgeni Malkin stepped it up in the absence of their fallen captain.
Malkin has been instrumental in leading the Pens to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 81 points, tied with the Montreal Canadiens.
With 88 points, Malkin is also second only to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin in league scoring. Ovechkin rose to 90 points following his five-point performance against the Boston Bruins on Monday.
Before his injury, the 20-year-old Crosby was leading the NHL in scoring with 63 points. He was forced to miss this year's All-Star game as a result of the sprain.
Crosby has been out of the lineup since Jan. 18, when his right skate crashed into the boards against the same Lightning squad he'll face this evening.
The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native—and last year's scoring champion—will rejoin the Pittsburgh team that traded away his travel roommate while he was injured.
The Penguins dealt forward (and close-knit companion) Colby Armstrong, along with Eric Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a draft pick to Atlanta for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis last Tuesday—the NHL's trade deadline day.
There should be plenty of exciting hockey in Pittsburgh when Hossa, who hurt his knee during his first game as a Penguin against the Bruins, returns to play with Crosby and Malkin.
The Slovak forward is expected to be back in about a week, recovering from a grade one medial collateral sprain suffered during a knee-on-knee collision with Boston's Glen Murray.