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Kings to play enforcer Kevin Westgarth against Penguins

February 10, 2011 |  1:22 pm

Although the Pittsburgh Penguins will be without superstars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) when they face the Kings on Thursday, Kings Coach Terry Murray said he won’t change his approach. Nor does Murray expect an easier game.

"Any time you lose top players like that in the game, it’s really unfortunate for the game of hockey,” Murray said after the Kings’ morning skate at the impressive, new Consol Energy Center. “But from our side of it, we have to come out and play the right way. We have to do the same things and know that we’ve got to work hard, that everything matters, every shift.

“Whether you have the top players of the opponent against you or you have a banged-up team, I know darned well that Pittsburgh is still a very good defensive hockey club. They’re going to bring a lot of intensity, a lot of hard play, and we’ve got to be ready to match that.”

The Kings are 2-0-1 after the first segment of the 10 straight road games they will play this month, and Murray said he planned only one lineup change Thursday: he said he will play heavyweight Kevin Westgarth in place of Brad Richardson. The Penguins weren’t planning to use one of their tough guys, Eric Godard, and their most penalized player, Matt Cooke, will sit out as he begins serving a four-game suspension for his deplorable hit from behind against Columbus’ Fedor Tyutin on Tuesday. But with Westgarth in the lineup the Penguins could bring Godard back in.

“Westgarth brings an element to the game that we feel we have to have when we come on the road,” Murray said. “Pittsburgh’s got some heavy players. As you take a look on the remaining part of the road trip, there are those kinds of teams that play hard.

“The Flyers are going to have a hard team and a hard lineup, so we’ve got to make sure that our bases are covered in the important areas of the game.”

-- Helene Elliott, in Pittsburgh