PITTSBURGH (AP) - The streaking Pittsburgh Penguins have lost their captain.
But that's OK, they say. Not only have the Penguins grown accustomed to playing without Sidney Crosby in recent years, they also just traded for two other team captains.
Pittsburgh went through its first practice Monday since learning that NHL scoring leader Crosby underwent surgery for a broken jaw that will keep him out indefinitely.
Winners of 15 consecutive games, two shy of the NHL record for the longest streak, the Penguins (28-8-0) insist they can keep rolling without the face of their franchise.
"Obviously, it's a huge loss and the way Sid's been playing has been unbelievable," winger James Neal said. "Losing him stinks, but at the same time we've got some good depth on this team and that gives a chance for some guys to step up, and definitely for some new guys we just acquired to step up.
"I'm sure we'll be OK."
Pittsburgh's streak will be on the line Tuesday night against visiting Buffalo (13-17-6).
Crosby was still hospitalized early Monday while his team went through a lengthy and spirited practice. It was the first time Jarome Iginla practiced with Pittsburgh after he was acquired from the Calgary Flames early Thursday. He made his Penguins debut during Saturday's 2-0 win over the New York Islanders.
It was during Crosby's first shift of that game that he was struck in the mouth by a puck from Brooks Orpik's slap shot that was deflected into an unsuspecting Crosby.
Crosby had dental work performed in addition to facial surgery and the repairing of his jaw. The team also said there would be additional procedures performed this week.
In the week before Crosby was knocked out, the Penguins added former Flames captain Iginla and former Stars captain Brenden Morrow as well as eight-year veteran defenseman Douglas Murray via trade. Pittsburgh also welcomed back reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin after he missed 13 of 16 games due to an upper-body injury.
Even before Crosby went down, the Penguins learned they would be without their top two defensemen. Kris Letang is day to day with a lower body injury - he skated on his own before practice Monday - and Paul Martin is out four to six weeks after breaking an unspecified bone in his upper body.
"We've lost some players ... who aren't with us on the ice right now, but there are capable guys in that room who are ready to go," coach Dan Bylsma said. "You saw that last game. ... Guys ready to go who know how to play and are ready to play in their absence. We saw that last game, and we'll see it going forward."
As painful as this jaw and mouth injury might be, there appears to be no long-term danger to Crosby or any suspicion he will be out for an extended period - meaning multiple months.
During practice, Tyler Kennedy was slotted into Crosby's spot as the No. 1 center between Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. Iginla remained on a line with Malkin and Neal, and Morrow was still with Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke.
"We're just trying to keep doing what we're doing and keep playing the same way," Sutter said. "Obviously, Sid's a pretty special player here, but it's an opportunity for someone - or a couple guys - to step up.
"And we've still got Evgeni Malkin, the MVP. I think we'll be all right. No one needs to change their game."
The Penguins beat the Sabres 4-3 on Feb. 17, handing Buffalo the first of four straight losses. That began the Sabres' current stretch of 14 defeats in 21 games, and they tied their season-worst skid at four with a 2-0 home loss to Boston on Sunday.
Buffalo fell into 13th place in the Eastern Conference, and there continues to be speculation the Sabres will continue shaking up their roster before the NHL trading deadline Wednesday.
After dealing veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold to St. Louis on Saturday and fellow defenseman Robyn Regehr to Los Angeles on Monday, general manager Darcy Regier suggested he's open to any deal for any player - including goaltender Ryan Miller - for the right price.
Miller appeared in his 491st career game Sunday, matching the Sabres franchise record among goalies set by Dominik Hasek.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few more (trades)," said leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
The Penguins have won 11 of 14 overall and five of six at home in this series. The Sabres lost 8-3 in their last visit to Pittsburgh on Dec. 17, 2011, as Malkin had three goals and two assists.
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