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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 28th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (36-21-7) at Boston Bruins (33-23-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Sensing the Eastern Conference is wide open, Pittsburgh made a huge move on Tuesday. The Penguins will debut Marian Hossa tonight when they visit the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden.

Despite not having Sidney Crosby since the star center went down with a high ankle sprain on January 18, the Penguins are in the thick of the chase for the top spot in the East. Pittsburgh enters this contest just a point shy of New Jersey for both the No. 1 seed in the East and the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

While Evgeni Malkin has picked up the scoring slack considerably in Crosby's absence, the club got him some help on Tuesday by getting Hossa from the Thrashers, along with Pascal Dupuis, for forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a 2008 first-round pick.

Hossa, who was considered the premier player on the market, had 26 goals and 30 assists in 60 games with the Thrashers. He has also scored 80 or more points in each of the last four seasons.

In a separate trade, Pittsburgh added defenseman Hal Gill to its ranks, dealing a second-round pick in 2008 and a fifth-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft to Toronto. Gill is also expected to be in the lineup tonight.

The Penguins have won four of their last six games, and defeated the New York Islanders, 4-2, on Tuesday. Malkin had a goal and an assist, giving him a league-best 84 points (36 goals, 48 assists) on the season.

However, it was Ty Conklin who stole the show as the netminder made a career- best 50 saves in the win. The Penguins were outshot 52-21 after the Hossa trade left them with a short bench.

Jeff Taffe, Jordan Staal and Connor James also tallied for the Pens, who won the opener of their current three-game road trip that wraps in Ottawa on Saturday. The Penguins have won three in row on the road and are 18-11-2 as the visiting club this season.

Boston is always in the playoff hunt, but was unable to make a splash at the trade deadline. However, its current roster has clicked as of late, as the Bruins notched a 4-0 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday for their season-high tying fourth straight win.

The Bruins also won four straight from October 12-20 of this season, and haven't taken five in a row since a six-game winning run from January 29- February 10, 2004.

Tim Thomas made 22 saves for his sixth career shutout and second this season. Zdeno Chara scored two goals, David Krejci netted his first-career goal and Shawn Thornton also tallied for Boston.

Boston is currently tied with the New York Rangers for sixth in the East with 72 points, while the Bruins are six points back of Ottawa for first in the Northeast Division.

The Bruins had lost four in a row at home until Tuesday's win, and plays the second portion of three straight at home tonight. Boston, which hosts Atlanta on Saturday, is 15-12-3 at home this year.

Pittsburgh is 2-1 against the Bruins this year, but the Bruins have taken 10 of the last 14 meetings overall. The Penguins have won two straight in Boston, but have also dropped six of 10 in Beantown.

02/28 10:31:43 ET


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