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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, October 19th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (5-3-0) at Pittsburgh Penguins (6-1-0), 1 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will take aim at their first four-game winning streak of the season when they host the Vancouver Canucks for Saturday's matinee at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins currently are on their second three-game winning streak of the season. The club opened 2013-14 with three straight victories before losing to Florida on Oct. 11, but has rebounded from that lone setback with wins over Tampa Bay, Edmonton and Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh has outscored the opposition by a 12-7 margin during its active win streak and Dan Bylsma's team is coming off Thursday's 4-1 decision in Philadelphia.
The Pens received a goal and an assist from Evgeni Malkin in the win over the hated Flyers. Even playing without top defenseman Kris Letang (knee) and key forward James Neal (lower-body), four different players lit the lamp for Pittsburgh, including Sidney Crosby, who increased his season-commencing point streak to seven games.
Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen also tallied for the Penguins, the Metropolitan Division leaders with 12 points on the season.
"The start of the season is always an adjustment. You really just focus on your work ethic and making sure you're committed to doing what you need to do every night," Crosby said. "Sometimes, it doesn't work out that way, especially early on, but we found a way to win games for different reasons. It's nice to get rewarded early on, and to build some confidence and momentum."
Pascal Dupuis added a pair of assists to back a 24-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.
This afternoon's game kicks off a three-game homestand for the Pens, who are off to their best home start in nearly 20 years. Pittsburgh is 4-0 as the host this season, three wins shy of the club's 7-0 start at Civic Arena to begin the 1994-95 campaign.
Pittsburgh also will welcome Colorado and the New York Islanders during this residency.
The Canucks enter Saturday's test coming off back-to-back wins and head coach John Tortorella's club has posted a 2-0 start to a season-high seven-game road trip. All told, Vancouver has won three in a row as the guest and its lone road loss this season came on Oct. 3 at San Jose.
After rallying to win a 3-2 regulation decision at Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Canucks dominated the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-0 triumph on Thursday. Roberto Luongo stopped all 25 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season, and Vancouver scored one goal in all three periods to subdue the Sabres.
The Canucks dominated the game from the opening drop, outshooting Buffalo 19-7 in the first period. Chris Higgins scored the first goal, Brad Richardson lit the lamp in the second and Ryan Stanton tallied the final goal midway through the third.
"It was a great start by us," Luongo said. "We came out flying."
Luongo has started seven of Vancouver's eight games this season, but he could get a rest in one of his team's two contests this weekend. The Canucks will play again Sunday at Columbus, meaning Eddie Lack could get the call in one of the games. Luongo is 13-8-2 with a tie and a 2.78 goals against average in 25 career games against the Penguins. Lack, meanwhile, made his NHL debut in his one start earlier this season, posting a win in a 5-4 decision at Calgary on Oct. 6.
The Canucks will get defenseman Alexander Edler back from a three-game suspension on Saturday. Edler, who received the ban for an illegal check on San Jose's Thomas Hertl on Oct. 10, has one goal and two assists in five games this season and is leading Vancouver with an average ice time of 24 minutes, 56 seconds.
Fleury expects to start on Saturday for Pittsburgh and is 2-2-0 with a 2.95 GAA in four career outings against the Canucks.
Pittsburgh has won two straight and three of the last five meetings with the Canucks, but Vancouver has claimed seven of the past 10 matchups in the series. The Canucks had won four straight in the Steel City before losing on Nov. 17, 2010 in their only other game at CONSOL Energy Center.
10/19 10:31:41 ET