Crosby out as Penguins prepare to battle Ducks

Anaheim (22-18-5) at Pittsburgh (21-20-4), 7:30 p.m. EST

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) — All-Star Evgeni Malkin learned to carry
the offensive load without fellow All-Star Sidney Crosby for 29
games last season. The Pittsburgh Penguins hope it will not be
that long this time around.

Malkin and the reeling Penguins will look to end their recent
struggles without the injured Crosby when they host the Anaheim
Ducks on Friday.

Crosby, who played just 53 contests last season due to a high
ankle sprain, collided with Washington’s David Steckel late in
the third period of Wednesday’s 6-3 setback to the Capitals and
did not return.

The 21-year-old had an MRI on his injured leg on Thursday and
said there “wasn’t too much swelling” but he will not play
Friday. The Penguins are officially listing Crosby as
day-to-dayu with a lower body injury.

I don’t feel comfortable enough to play,” Crosby said. “It
didn’t feel good. That was the first time I skated since it
happened. No go.”

If the 2007 Hart Trophy winner is to miss an extended period of
time, it will be tough for the Penguins to rebound from their
current tailspin, which has them looking up at the eighth and
final playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference.

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They have dropped eight of their last 10 and have surrendered at
least four goals in each of their last seven losses. Despite
the defensive lapses, Malkin continues to produce and lead the
NHL with 67 points.

In more positive news on the injury front, defenseman Sergei
Gonchar worked out on the ice Thursday with his teammates. This
marked Gonchar’s first appearance since undergoing surgery to
repair a dislocated shoulder he received on a hit from Tampa
Bay’s David Koci in an exhibition game in September.

Gonchar is not expected to return to the lineup until March.

Anaheim, which has fallen in three of its previous four, is
coming off a 4-3 setback to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Ducks begin a five-game road trip, but begin their
season-high road swing February 20, when they are away from the
Honda Center for six contests.