NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 11th (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (28-17-1) at Minnesota Wild (22-20-3), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to win consecutive games for the first time in over three weeks when they visit the Minnesota Wild for tonight's clash at Xcel Energy Center.
The Penguins have won two of their last three outings after losing their previous five tilts. Pittsburgh was last able to record back-to-back wins at the end of a five-game winning streak from December 10-19.
Pittsburgh was slammed 7-4 by visiting Philadelphia on Thursday, but rebounded with a victory Saturday in Toronto. Sergei Gonchar returned from a four-game absence to notch a pair of goals as the Penguins downed the Maple Leafs, 4-1, at Air Canada Centre.
Gonchar, who leads all Pittsburgh defensemen with 26 points, played in his first game since injuring his right foot on December 30 against New Jersey. The Russian blueliner also added an assist to notch his second three-point game of the season.
"It's huge when we're all playing well," said Gonchar of his club's recovery from their recent struggles. "It's good to see that we've found the top of our game. We know what we're capable of."
Bill Guerin and Sidney Crosby also tallied for the Penguins, who are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 57 points. Marc-Andre Fleury, tagged for four goals on 15 shots in the loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, responded with 42 saves in the victory.
Brooks Orpik suffered an undisclosed injury in Saturday's win and the defenseman is questionable for tonight's test. Orpik has 15 points -- all assists -- in 42 games for Pittsburgh this year.
Tonight marks the second stop on a five-game road trip for the Pens, who are 14-9-0 as the visiting club this year. Pittsburgh ended a four-game road skid against the Maple Leafs.
The Wild come into tonight having won their last two games on the heels of a four-game slide. Minnesota's consecutive triumphs have come at the start of a four-game homestand that will end Wednesday against Vancouver. The Wild have a 14-6-1 record as the host this season.
Minnesota ended its skid with Wednesday's 4-1 victory over Calgary and then recorded a stunning comeback win against powerful Chicago on Saturday. The Blackhawks led the Wild by a 5-1 count after two periods, but Todd Richards' club scored four unanswered goals in the third stanza to push the game to overtime.
Owen Nolan's goal in the eighth round of the shootout ultimately gave the Wild a 6-5 win over Chicago at XEC.
Guillaume Latendresse scored twice while Marek Zidlicky, Kim Johnsson and Mikko Koivu each lit the lamp for the Wild. Martin Havlat had two assists to push his point streak to seven games.
"It's a great feeling to come back and win a game like this," said Latendresse. "You don't do that very often so it's exciting. We've got a lot of hockey ahead of us and this is a good start."
Niklas Backstrom started in net, but was pulled after the second period as he gave up five goals on 12 shots. Josh Harding spent the rest of the game between the pipes and stopped all 13 shots he faced and seven attempts in the shootout.
The Wild recorded a 2-1 regulation win in Pittsburgh back on October 31, giving Minnesota a 6-1 mark with a tie in the last eight meetings between the clubs. The Penguins are 1-2 with a tie in four all-time trips to St. Paul.
01/11 10:38:06 ET