PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mario Lemieux will miss his second consecutive game because of a stomach virus tonight when the Penguins play the Buffalo Sabres.

He sat out Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay – a 4-1 Pittsburgh loss. Lemieux did not practice Monday, and the player-owner was not available for comment.

Star rookie Sidney Crosby also missed practice Monday after bruising his left foot when he blocked a shot Friday night in Florida.

The team has said Lemieux has the same virus caused him to miss a game Nov. 16 in Philadelphia.

The 40-year-old Lemieux came back after missing the game in Philadelphia to play in the team’s next three. He had one assist as the Penguins went 1-2.

Already inducted into the Hall of Fame after an initial retirement in 1997, Lemieux has a long history of health problems, specifically his back, hip and a bout with Hodgkin’s disease in 1993. He has not played more than 76 games in a season since 1996-97 and has played more than 43 only once since coming out of retirement in middle of the 2000-01 season.

Lemieux has not had a point in 12 of 22 games this season and has only one goal and one assist in his last seven games. Lemieux’s minus-16 rating is second-worst on the team and only six of his points have come at even strength. Still, Lemieux is averaging nearly a point a game, with seven goals and 13 assists.

Crosby, the No. 1 overall draft pick, said Lemieux was growing frustrated by the team’s poor record. The Penguins were 7-11-6 and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference entering Monday night.

Lemieux “is the same as anyone else,” Crosby said. “We all want to win.”

Crosby did not have a point Sunday, but he said the foot did not bother him much in the first and third periods. Crosby, who wore extra padding in his skate Sunday, said the foot was healing.

“I talked with the coaches and (we decided) to take the day off, get a little break and make sure I’m ready,” he said.

AP-ES-11-28-05 1645EST


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