According to the San Jose Mercury News, Malkin left this morning’s skate with a lower-body injury.
The Sharks, at 19-3-5, have won six straight and lead the Pacific Division with 43 points, two better than the Anaheim Ducks. They trail only the Chicago Blackhawks’ 44 points in the Western Conference.
The Penguins are 19-9-1 and with 39 points lead the Metropolitan Division and the entire Eastern Conference.
So that makes tonight’s game sort of a big deal.
“With all due respect to Chicago, I think they’re maybe the best team in the league right now in a lot of different areas,” Bylsma said.
He specifically pointed to how well the Sharks do at even strength.
San Jose has outscored its opponents 84-57 when the teams are at equal strength this season, the best margin in the NHL.
Pittsburgh’s even-strength tally, by contrast, is just 63-53, but their 26 power-play goals leads the NHL, while the 12 man-advantage goals the Penguins have allowed is tied for second-lowest in the league. The Vancouver Canucks have surrendered only 11 power-play goals this season.
Pittsburgh comes into this game having won four straight, including a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.