SUNRISE, Fla. – No matter how many injured players they are missing, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep on winning.
Brenden Morrow scored two goals to lift the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves. Morrow also had an assist and Beau Bennett had two assists.
Pittsburgh centre Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an upper body injury. The Penguins were also without Sidney Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a broken jaw.
It’s unclear how long Malkin might be out of the lineup.
“He’s day-to-day with an upper body, re-aggravated and just dealing with a nagging injury and wasn’t able to go tonight because of that,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Penguins defenceman Paul Martin and forward James Neal have also missed the past several games.
“It hasn’t been our plan, but we’re finding ways,” Morrow said. “Each game somebody is stepping up and it’s feeling really good.”
The Penguins won for the 19th time in 21 games. The Panthers have lost three of their past four.
Scottie Upshall scored for Florida and Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 shots.
Trailing 2-0, the Panthers closed to 2-1 on a goal by Upshall in the second. After his initial shot was blocked, Upshall charged the net and was able to poke in the rebound at 4:10.
Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann had a good shot with just under a minute left that could have tied the game but Fleury made the stop.
“The last game we played he’s the one that came in on a 2-on-1 and scored,” Fleury said. “I kind of had that in the back of my mind a little bit. I tried to make myself big and got enough of a piece and made a stop.”
Morrow added an empty-netter with 21 seconds left.
“We had some good opportunities tonight, but at the end we couldn’t finish against a good team,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said.
The Panthers were aware that the Penguins were playing short-handed.
“That’s always a disappointment for the 18,000 fans; you want to see those premier players,” Dineen said. “If you pay a lot of money to see the (Miami) Heat and you don’t get to see LeBron right now; that would have a little sting to it. I enjoy watching those good players play.”
Pittsburgh scored two goals in the first period.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead on Letang’s goal. Morrow brought the puck out from behind the net to Bennett, who passed from the right circle out to Letang. His slap shot from just inside the blue line got past Markstrom at 14:49.
Morrow’s first goal of the game gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead. He poked the puck from behind the goal line at the side of the net and it bounced off Markstrom and across the goal line at 18:27.
Bennett got assists on both goals for his first multi-point game.
“It feels good. You love to contribute. But the win is the major thing,” Bennett said.
According to STATS, the Penguins are 24-13-5 since 2008 without both Crosby and Malkin in the lineup.
The Penguins’ depth impressed the Panthers.
“They’ve got some good leaders over there. If you’re sitting on that bench and look side to side you’re going to see guys that have been there and been in those big games and know the right things to say at the right times,” Upshall said. “We could learn a little bit from that.”
Notes: This season the Penguins are 15-4 when either Malkin or Crosby are out of the game. … Panthers D Mike Weaver returned after missing 20 games with a lower body injury. … F Peter Mueller, who didn’t travel to Winnipeg for Thursday’s game due to the pending birth of his baby, started Saturday’s game.