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The Pittsburgh Penguins have proven to be very good when they get production from young stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Success when those two are held in check, though, has been harder to come by.
The Penguins (7-4-1) look to rebound from consecutive losses and post a rare win against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-7-1) when the teams meet at Mellon Arena on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh had a five-game win streak snapped with a 3-2 loss at San Jose on Saturday, and concluded a four-game road trip with an overtime defeat by the same score against Anaheim on Monday.
Crosby and Malkin managed only one assist each in those losses after the duo combined for 10 goals and 12 assists during the win streak. Malkin has no goals in his last two games after becoming the first NHL player in 89 years to score a goal in his first six contests.
Crosby, meanwhile, failed to record a shot on goal for the third straight game after he registered 12 in the previous three games.
"I'd definitely like to get more pucks to the net, but I'm not going to sit here and worry about it too much," Crosby said. "Obviously, you want to get shots, but I think I've passed up a couple to try to make a play and I don't regret that.
"When I think it's time to shoot, I'm going to shoot. But there's no doubt that there's guys pretty much within a stick-length of me all the time. So if I want to get shots, it's going to have to be around the net and it'll have to be a clear chance."
While the Penguins' early season play has been impressive, getting production from players other than Crosby, Malkin and 18-year-old rookie Jordan Staal will be imperative if the team is going to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2000-01.
Malkin, Crosby and Staal have accounted for 18 of Pittsburgh's 41 goals. Mark Recchi has been held to one goal in 12 games, while fellow veteran forward John LeClair has yet to score.
After a rare night off, Marc-Andre Fleury figures to be back in net Wednesday. Fleury was on the bench for the first time this season Monday as Jocelyn Thibault stopped 37 of 40 shots in his first start since Jan. 6.
Fleury will try to help the Penguins end an eight-game losing streak against the Lightning. Tampa Bay has won those games by a combined 36-10 score since a 3-2 loss Jan. 17, 2003.
The inconsistent Lightning played one of their best games of the season Monday night in a 5-1 road victory over the New York Islanders. Defenseman Filip Kuba scored his first two goals of the season and Johan Holmqvist turned away 25 shots for his second consecutive win.
Tampa Bay picked up at least a point for the third straight game (2-0-1) and rebounded from a 6-5 overtime loss at Boston on Saturday.
"We've been close here quite a bit all year long here as far as playing a complete game," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "For one game, we played a pretty complete game."
Tortorella has a decision to make regarding his starting goalie for Wednesday. Holmqvist has won his last two starts, and No. 1 goaltender Marc Denis has surrendered 12 goals in losing his last three.
Lightning forwards Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis extended their respective point streaks Monday. Lecavalier's assist gave him six goals and 10 assists in his last nine contests, while St. Louis has 10 goals and 16 points during his nine-game run.
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