Gamethread: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins will get a taste of life without Evgeni Malkin Sunday, who has been ruled out of the game to monitor his status following a scary impact with the boards Friday evening.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning won't have the chance relive 2012's signature goal Sunday night.

Even without Evgeni Malkin in the line-up, the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to continue posting big numbers against Tampa Bay at home in the first of three meetings between the clubs this season.

Pittsburgh (12-6-0, 24 points) and Tampa Bay (9-7-1, 19 points) lead their divisions and are the top offensive teams in hockey.

Tampa Bay's 3.88 goals per game mark is far and away the best in the league, topping second-place Pittsburgh's 3.28 average by more than a half-goal per game.

Paced by Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning are a force offensively. Tampa has scored three or more goals in 12 of its 17 games this season and Stamkos leads the league in points (26) and is tied for the NHL lead with 12 goals.

Sidney Crosby isn't far behind Stamkos, the player with whom he split Rocket Richard honors in 2009-10. Crosby's 25 points rank second in the NHL, and James Neal is tied with workout partner Stamkos at 12 goals.

The big difference between these clubs is on the blue line. While Pittsburgh hasn't been excellent defensively (14th in goals against, 12th-ranked penalty kill), Tampa Bay's 23rd-ranked defense has seen them slip from early season contenders to a 3-6-1 mark over their last ten games.

Pittsburgh scored 12 goals in two home games against the Lightning last season. Can they continue on that success and finally get over .500 at home for the first time in 2013?

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