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Penguins-Blue Jackets Preview

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) celebrates with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) after a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 5 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. P Photo:

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) celebrates with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) after a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 5 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. P

The Pittsburgh Penguins are maintaining there's no indication that Sidney Crosby has the mumps. His swollen face might be insisting otherwise.

No matter the diagnosis, the star will remain out Saturday night in Columbus as the Penguins try to extend their regular-season winning streak over the surging Blue Jackets to seven.

Crosby sat out Friday's 3-1 win over visiting Calgary, the first of at least two games he'll miss.

"There is no indication at this time that this is the mumps, but we are going to hold him out as a precaution," general manager Jim Rutherford told the team's official website. "We'll have additional test results in a few days."

The Penguins (19-6-3) got scoring from Blake Comeau, Rob Klinkhammer and Kris Letang, who returned after missing five games with a groin injury.

"Kris Letang adds so much to our team," coach Mike Johnston said. "He jumps up into the play. He breaks out clean in our zone. … We have a nice balance to our defense group."

Patric Hornqvist also played after sitting two with an undisclosed ailment, though Pittsburgh remains without forward Chris Kunitz (broken foot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (upper body), while forward Zach Sill suffered an upper-body injury against Calgary and will miss a few weeks.

Evgeni Malkin added two assists and has nine points on a seven-game streak against Columbus that spans his entire career in regular-season meetings. Malkin also scored three goals in Pittsburgh's clinching Game 6 win over the Blue Jackets in last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Malkin had scored four goals in his previous four games and is now tied with Crosby for the team points lead with 35.

Very little of his recent production has come on the power play, where Pittsburgh continued to struggle with a 0-for-5 night to fall to 1 for 19 over seven games. It's balanced that out with a 19-for-20 penalty kill over the past five.

The Penguins have won six straight in the regular-season series and five straight in Columbus, but the Blue Jackets (11-15-2) are on a five-game winning streak. Extending it will require a victory over one of the best road teams in hockey, as the Penguins enter at 9-2-2.

After Thursday's 3-2 overtime win in Washington, the Blue Jackets have allowed nine goals on the run. They fell behind by one goal twice, but Nick Foligno and Kevin Connauton scored equalizers before Foligno ended it on the power play in the extra period.

"When things weren't going well for us, we didn't respond the right way," said coach Todd Richards, whose club experienced losing streaks of nine and six games before heating up. "So a positive sign about tonight is that despite being down 1-0 and 2-1, the guys stuck with it. We got some saves when we needed it, but the guys stuck with it."

Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves and has been in goal the entire streak with a 1.73 goals-against average.

"It's huge when a goalie is playing that well. It gives us an opportunity to win hockey games," Connauton said. "It's motivating, too."

Including the postseason, Bobrovsky has gone 3-7-0 with a 4.03 GAA in his last 11 games against the Penguins.

For Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre Fleury faced the Flames and made 26 saves to improve to 3-0-1 with a 1.72 GAA this month. He won all three of his regular-season starts against the Blue Jackets last year with a 1.33 GAA despite facing an average of 36.0 shots.

The Penguins could rest Fleury with Thomas Greiss, who has dropped two of his last three starts with a 3.00 GAA.

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