NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, November 9th (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (11-5-0) at St. Louis Blues (10-2-2), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the NHL's top points producers square off on Saturday night, when Alexander Steen and the St. Louis Blues play host to Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins.
Steen comes into the contest leading the NHL with 14 goals and his 20 points are behind only Steven Stamkos (22), Ryan Getzlaf (22) and Crosby's 23.
The 29-year-old Steen has notched 10 goals and two assists over his past nine games. That is pretty impressive given he struggled to just eight goals in 40 games a season ago.
The forward has scored just once in 14 career games versus the Penguins, but does have 10 assists against them as well.
Steen's latest goal ended up being the game-winner in Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Maxim Lapierre and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the first period and Steen lit the lamp 5:55 into the second before the Flames made a game of it with two third-period tallies.
Brian Elliott, though, was strong with 18 saves in his 100th career win, St. Louis' fifth in six games overall and it came in the opener of a five-game homestand. The Blues are 6-1-1 as the guest this season.
"The first period was terrific," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We did a lot of really good things. We played exactly the way we wanted to. We had rush-attack chances, our power play looked good. Everything we needed to do, we did in the first period, and then we took those penalties and it took us out of rhythm and allowed their better players to play on easier ice."
Steen became the first Blues player to score 14 goals in the club's first 14 games since Brett Hull had 16 in 1990-91, while defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk notched an assist for a career-high seventh straight game.
Few should be surprised that Crosby is leading the league in points after he notched 56 in just 36 games a season ago. He has four assists without a goal in six lifetime meetings with the Blues.
Crosby has been held without a point in just three of his 16 games this season, including Wednesday's 5-1 setback to the hosting New York Rangers that snapped a four-game win streak. Kris Letang had the lone Penguins goal and Marc-Andre Fleury gave up five goals on 25 shots.
"We gave them too many opportunities. We didn't play at all at our game and then we got disjointed in our effort, we got disjointed in our game in the second," said Pens head coach Dan Bylsma. "That wasn't anything close to where we need to play or want to play. It's the story of the game."
Pascal Dupuis seems on track to play tonight after leaving Wednesday's game early due to an undisclosed injury. Forward James Neal, meanwhile, returned to practice in full on Thursday after suffering an upper-body injury back on Oct. 3, but will still need to work his way into game shape before returning to the lineup.
The Penguins have lost five of their last seven trips to St. Louis and the Blues are 7-2-2 in the previous 11 meetings overall.
Fleury fell to 10-3-0 with a 2.07 goals against average in 13 starts this season and is 3-2-1 with a 2.51 GAA in six lifetime meetings with the Blues.
Jaroslav Halak is likely to start for St. Louis and is 8-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA in 11 starts on the season. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.61 GAA in three previous starts against Pittsburgh.
11/09 10:44:24 ET