When Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin slammed into the boards during their 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night it looked bad. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better Saturday morning.
Malkin is experiencing concussion symptoms including headaches and mild disorientation, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that Malkin will not play on Sunday when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"He's getting evaluated," said Bylsma. "We're waiting to see how he feels and reacts. He went into the boards pretty darn hard. We're not expecting any timeline to the injury or anything."
Malkin was injured when he was hit by Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
"I just finished my check,” Gudbranson told the media after the game. "You never want to see a guy go down. He's in a vulnerable position, but you can't pass up a hit. It's unfortunate that he got hurt on the play, but it's one I woud take every time."
If Malkin misses an extended period of time Brandon Sutter would move up to the second line role with Dustin Jeffrey, a healthy scratch for much of the season, likely taking over on the third line. The Penguins were already in the market for a winger on their second line next to Malkin and James Neal, and now they appear to be without Malkin as well.
It will also probably be the first time this season they really start to miss Jordan Staal after trading him to Carolina over the summer as he was always more than capable of sliding into a top-line center role. Sutter, the key player coming back to Pittsburgh in that deal, has been outstanding in the third-line, shutdown center role, but he doesn't really have the offensive upside or ability that Staal does.
The Penguins have had their share of concussion issues the past few years. Their captain Sidney Crosby missed parts of the past two seasons due to head and neck injuries, and defenseman Kris Letang was out of the lineup for an extended period of time last season after he was hit by Montreal's Max Pacioretty.
Malkin won the NHL's scoring title for the second time last season and also took home his first MVP award. In his first 17 games this season he's scored four goals to go with 17 assists.