NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, November 3rd
(All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-1) at Dallas Stars (6-4-0), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Penguins learned earlier this week that one of
their young stars won't be making his expected return to the lineup anytime
soon, they might still be getting some healthy bodies back in time for
tonight's game versus the Stars.
Both forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Zbynek Michalek should return to
action on Wednesday when Pittsburgh tries for a sixth straight victory over
Young center Jordan Staal has yet to play a game this season due to a foot
infection stemming from a lacerated tendon suffered in last year's playoffs,
but was nearing a return to the lineup before suffering a broken right hand in
practice on Monday. The ailment could sideline Staal for another six weeks.
The news isn't all bad for the Penguins though as both Malkin and Michalek
could return tonight. Malkin missed Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Hurricanes
due to a bruised knee, while Michalek hasn't played since Oct. 11 due to a
Alex Goligoski (undisclosed) and Kris Letang (hand/wrist) are both
questionable to return tonight as well.
Pittsburgh didn't miss Malkin's offense on Saturday, getting a pair of goals
from Pascal Dupuis and one from Maxime Talbot. Brent Johnson made 33 saves for
his 14th career shutout and first since April 1, 2006 as the Penguins halted a
three-game losing streak in the opener of a four-game road trip.
"I think our desperation level was a lot higher, and we did a lot of little
things," forward Sidney Crosby told Pittsburgh's website. "We were strong on
one-on-one battles and we executed well. Every little detail you can look at
we were strong in. When you pay attention to those things you get good
One area Crosby and company will look to improve is the power play, where the
Pens are 0-for-22 in their last five games.
Johnson, expected to be the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury, improved to 5-0-1
with a 1.16 goals-against average in six starts this year. Fleury, meanwhile,
is just 1-5-0 with a 3.35 GAA and .863 save percentage in his six starts.
It is unknown who will start in net tonight, but if head coach Dan Bylsma is
looking to get Fleury on track, he has the right opponent lined up. Fleury has
won all four of his career starts versus the Stars with a 1.96 GAA. Johnson is
2-3-0 with a tie and a 2.46 GAA versus them lifetime.
Crosby, who had two assists on Saturday, notched a pair of goals and an assist
in last year's 6-3 home win over the Stars in the only meeting between the
teams. It was Pittsburgh's fifth straight win in the series and it hasn't lost
to Dallas since a 3-1 road setback on March 2, 2003.
Crosby has four goals and three assists in three career games versus the
Dallas also snapped a three-game skid last time out and improved to 1-3-0 on a
six-game homestand at American Airlines Center with Saturday's 4-0 blanking of
Kari Lehtonen had started the Stars' first nine games, but was pulled early in
last Thursday's loss to the Kings. Andrew Raycroft came on in relief and then
made his first start in a Dallas uniform over the weekend, halting 34 shots
for his eighth career shutout.
"It's terrific that [Raycroft] played as well as he did," Dallas head coach
Marc Crawford told his team's website. "He had real good focus. He's a pro,
and he knows how to get himself prepared. We also played a solid game in front
Though Raycroft has yet to allow a goal in 75 minutes of action and 42 shots
faced, Lehtonen is slated to get the start tonight. He is 6-3-2 with a 2.84
GAA when facing the Penguins.
James Neal and Brenden Morrow both scored power-play goals versus the Sabres,
Steve Ott notched a short-handed tally and Trevor Daley also scored.
11/03 10:56:36 ET