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With Malkin out, Penguins exploring with Sheary on first-unit power play

Brendan Smith, Conor Sheary

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (2) reach for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


There’s no substitute for Evgeni Malkin, but tonight against Detroit Conor Sheary may get the chance to replace some of what the injured Penguins star can brings to the power play when healthy.

Sheary is expected to get first-unit PP time with Sidney Crosby. At least, that’s where he was practicing yesterday.

“We wanted to explore that a little bit. We’re thinking on ways we can make some adjustments there to try and get different results,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Post-Gazette. “Conor, one of his strengths is his ability to play that give-and-go game in tight and rotating out of that corner. We think especially with [Crosby] one of the reasons the power play has had success was for that very reason, the motion, and the movement that Sid and Geno had and not getting locked into one particular spot.”

Sheary has had no trouble piling up points at the AHL level. He remains Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s leading scorer this season, with 36 points in 30 games. (The Baby Penguins have played 50 games total.)

But the diminutive 23-year-old has just three goals and one assist in 22 games for the big club this season. In his defense, he’s barely received any PP time and at five-on-five his most common linemate has been Kevin Porter.

The Penguins are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss at Florida. They’ve only scored twice in their last three games. And over their last six games, the power play has converted just once in 14 opportunities.

Related: Malkin ‘close’ to rejoining Pens practice, but no timetable for return