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Penguins vs. Sharks Game Preview

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 7:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
36-20-5-77
Home: 20-11-1-41
Road: 16-9-4-36

WHEN: Feb. 23, 2011 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH:
FSN, Versus  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
San Jose Sharks
Overall:
34-21-6-74
Home: 15-10-3-33
Road:
19-11-3-41

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. San Jose Sharks 
 
      
Joe Pavelski
C  -  #8
  13 Goals
  30 Assists
  43 Points
• Exploded for nine goals and 17 points through 15 games in San Jose’s run to the Western Conference finals last season, leading the Sharks in postseason scoring.

• Became the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1992-93 to have three straight multi-goal games in the playoffs (Game 6 versus Colorado and Games 1 and 2 versus Detroit).

• The Plover, Wisc. native, who signed a four-year contract extension last summer, competed for the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
 
Logan Couture
C  -  #39
  24 Goals
  17 Assists
  41 Points
• Is tops in the league with eight game-winning goals and also set a new NHL record for the most game-winning road goals by a rookie with seven.

• Is first with 191 shots and first (tied) with seven power-play tallies among NHL rookies while also ranking fourth among first-year players with a plus-14 rating.

• Played four seasons with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League from 2005-09 (accumulating 287 points over 232 games played) while getting drafted by the Sharks in the first round (ninth overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
 
Ryane Clowe
LW  -  #29
  17 goals
  30 assists
  47 points
• The 6-foot-2, 225-pound left winger leads all Sharks forwards and is second on the squad with 116 hits.

• Posted career highs last season with 38 assists and 57 points through 82 games played.

• The alternate captain’s 129-consecutive games played streak was snapped on Jan. 15 when he suffered a lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for four games.
The San Jose Sharks come to CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday as one of the league’s hottest teams. After opening 2011 with a six-game losing streak from Jan. 3-13 that put a damper on their postseason hopes in an extremely close Western Conference playoff race, the Sharks have rebounded with a vengeance and are currently on an 13-2-1 tear that’s catapulted them into sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference (and one point from third).

San Jose seems poised to build off last season’s finish, which featured a Western Conference finals appearance for the first time since 2002-03, under head coach Todd McLellan, now in his third year with the team. He led the Sharks to a 51-20-11 record in 2009-10 that came right after San Jose set new club records with 53 wins, 117 points and earned the President’s Trophy for the first time in McLellan’s first season behind the bench.

The Sharks parted ways over the summer with long-term netminder Evgeni Nabokov, who had spent all 10 seasons of his career with the franchise. In his stead they acquired goaltender Antti Niemi from Chicago, who won the 2010 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks as a rookie. Niemi has struggled at times to find consistency this season, but is thriving with more playing time. He’s started 16 straight games for the Sharks and earned his fifth shutout of the season (and his third in eight games) on Feb. 19 vs. the Avalanche. He earned ‘First Star’ honors for the week ending Feb. 20, as he stopped 78-of-81 shots, posted a 3-0 record, a 0.98 goals-against average and .963 save percentage.

Offense has always been the Sharks’ strong point, and that’s no different this year. Longtime Shark Patrick Marleau – who became the youngest player to dress 1,000 games for one franchise on Jan. 17 – paced the squad with 44 goals and 83 points last season, while Joe Thornton scored 83 points (20G-69A) and Dany Heatley had 82 points (39G-43A). While those three aren’t producing at quite the same clip they were last season, they’re still posting decent numbers. But a pleasant surprise for San Jose this season has been the play of rookie forward Logan Couture, whose 24 goals lead the team and rank second among first-year players. He leads the NHL with eight game-winning goals.

But the Sharks’ improvement this season (and the reason for their winning stretch) has come on the back end, as Feb. 19’s 4-0 win over Colorado marked the first time San Jose has won a game by more than two goals since Dec. 23. Dan Boyle, whose 26:45 of ice time per game in second in the league, leads them. Boyle, 34, has been the anchor of San Jose’s blue line and has 37 points (6G-37A) through 61 games. He’s joined by Douglas Murray, who is first on the team with 125 hits and second with 105 blocked shots.
  • The Penguins made their first major trade of the season on Feb. 21 when they acquired forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski. Neal, who is highly regarded as one of the top young power forwards in the game, is a three-time 20-goal scorer who ranked third on Dallas this season with 21 goals, and fifth with 39 points, at the time of the trade. He is expected to begin his Penguins' career playing the left side on a line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.
  • Niskanen, 24, is a right-handed shooting defenseman who is in his fourth NHL season. A 2005 first-round pick (28th overall) of the Stars, Niskanen had six assists in 45 games with Dallas this season. His best season came in 2008-09 when he led all Dallas blueliners with 35 points (6G-29A). Niskanen is expected to team with Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy on the team’s third D-pairing.
  • This is the first meeting between the two teams in Pittsburgh since the Penguins recorded a 2-1 shootout victory at Mellon Arena on Feb. 11, 2009. Sidney Crosby scored the game-deciding shootout goal and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 of 37 shots to record the victory. The Penguins are 2-0-1 in their past three home games against the Sharks.
  • Pittsburgh owns a 9-4-2 record this season against teams from the Western Conference, including a 5-2 mark at home. The Penguins' nine wins against the West are tied for second-most in the East, while their .667 winning percentage versus the West is tied with Carolina for tops in the Eastern Conference.
  • The Penguins will be wearing their powder blue 'third jerseys' for the next-to-last time this season. Pittsburgh owns a 7-3 record this season when they wear blue, including a 6-2 mark in powder blue and a 1-1 record in dark blue. The Penguins own an 18-9-3 all-time record in powder blue since first debuting the jerseys at the 2008 Winter Classic.
  • Pittsburgh enters Wednesday's game with 20 home wins in 32 games, the second-most number of home wins in the NHL behind Vancouver, who has 21. The Penguins' 20-11-1 home record includes an 18-7-1 mark over their last 26 games since starting just 2-4 at their new home. Over their past eight home games the Penguins are 6-2 and have surrendered just 11 goals for a 1.36 goals-against average.

 

      
Get the New Guys Acclimated: The newest members of the Penguins family – forward James Neal and Matt Niskanen – were unable to practice with Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning at CONSOL Energy Center due to weather conditions. The Penguins will have to find chemistry with their new teammates as quickly as possible against a surging Sharks squad.

Capitalize on Their Fatigue: The Sharks come to CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday having played the night before in Detroit. It marks the second contest of a three-game road swing through the East that came just two home games after a seven-game road trip that spanned from Feb. 2 to Feb. 15. The Penguins, with their bolstered lineup with the arrival of Neal and Niskanen, will need to take advantage of the Sharks’ tired legs.
F Arron Asham, upper body (IR)
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)
F Dustin Jeffrey, lower body (IR)
F Nick Johnson, upper body (day-to-day)
F Chris Kunitz, lower body (IR)
F Mark Letestu, lower body (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)
D Paul Martin, upper-body (day-to-day)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion-like symptoms (indefinitely)
G Antero Niittymaki, lower body (indefinitely)
D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, upper body (indefinitely)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Couture (24)
A
Letang (37) Thornton (37)
PTS
Crosby (66) Thornton (52)
PIM
Cooke (108) Mayers (107)
+/-
Crosby (+20) Couture (+15)
PP
Crosby (10) Thornton/Heatley (9)
SH
Cooke (3)
Marleau (2)
W/L
Fleury (27-15-3)
Niittymaki (12-6-3)
GAA
Fleury (2.26) Niemi (2.45)
SVP
Fleury (.922) Niemi (.919)

Jordan Staal - While Staal didn’t get on the scoresheet Monday in the Penguins’ 1-0 loss to the Capitals, he continued to be a force all over the ice. Staal logged 25:16 of ice time, the fourth time in the last six games he’s skated for 24-plus minutes. He fired five shots on net and wreaked havoc in front of the cage with his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. Prior to Monday’s tilt, Staal had embarked on a five-game point streak that saw him tally three goals and three assists over that stretch.
 
Devin Setoguchi - Setoguchi put forth a two-goal effort on Tuesday to bolster his team to a 4-3 win over conference rival Detroit. Prior to that game, Setoguchi collected his first-career hat trick on Feb. 19 to power the Sharks to a 4-0 blanking of Colorado. The 24-year-old forward scored even-strength and with the man-advantage before capping his trick with an unassisted tally. On Feb. 15, he had scored in regulation in the Sharks’ 2-1 overtime win over Nashville and threw nine pucks to the net in that game. Setoguchi now has 15 points (10G-5A) in his last 13 tilts.
 
 
 
 

Fan Guide vs. San Jose
Pens Support "Hockey for Huggies" Wednesday to Help Moms and Babies in Need

Penguins Report: 2/22/11
Penguins Re-Assign Craig, Strait
Aftermath: Capitals 1, Penguins 0
Pens GM Shero's Transcript Following Neal, Niskanen Acquisitions
Pens GM Shero: This is the Hockey Trade We've Been Looking For 
Penguins Acquire James Neal and Matt Niskanen From Dallas In Exchange For Alex Goligoski


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WHEN: Feb. 23, 2011 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: FSN, Versus
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

The San Jose Sharks come to CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday as one of the league's hottest teams. After opening 2011 with a six-game losing streak from Jan. 3-13 that put a damper on their postseason hopes in an extremely close Western Conference playoff race, the Sharks have rebounded with a vengeance and are currently on an 12-2-1 tear that's catapulted them into sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference (and one point from third).

San Jose seems poised to build off last season's finish, which featured a Western Conference finals appearance for the first time since 2002-03, under head coach Todd McLellan, now in his third year with the team. He led the Sharks to a 51-20-11 record in 2009-10 that came right after San Jose set new club records with 53 wins, 117 points and earned the President's Trophy for the first time in McLellan's first season behind the bench.

The Sharks parted ways over the summer with long-term netminder Evgeni Nabokov, who had spent all 10 seasons of his career with the franchise. In his stead they acquired goaltender Antti Niemi from Chicago, who won the 2010 Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks as a rookie. Niemi has struggled at times to find consistency this season, but is thriving with more playing time. He's started 15 straight games for the Sharks and earned his fifth shutout of the season (and his third in eight games) on Feb. 19 vs. the Avalanche. He earned ‘First Star' honors for the week ending Feb. 20, as he stopped 78-of-81 shots, posted a 3-0 record, a 0.98 goals-against average and .963 save percentage.

Offense has always been the Sharks' strong point, and that's no different this year. Longtime Shark Patrick Marleau – who became the youngest player to dress 1,000 games for one franchise on Jan. 17 – paced the squad with 44 goals and 83 points last season, while Joe Thornton scored 83 points (20G-69A) and Dany Heatley had 82 points (39G-43A). While those three aren't producing at quite the same clip they were last season, they're still posting decent numbers. But a pleasant surprise for San Jose this season has been the play of rookie forward Logan Couture, whose 24 goals lead the team and rank second among first-year players. He leads the NHL with eight game-winning goals.

But the Sharks' improvement this season (and the reason for their winning stretch) has come on the back end, as Feb. 19's 4-0 win over Colorado marked the first time San Jose has won a game by more than two goals since Dec. 23. Dan Boyle, whose 26:48 of ice time per game in second in the league, leads them. Boyle, 34, has been the anchor of San Jose's blue line and has 30 points (6G-30A) through 60 games. He's joined by Douglas Murray, who is first on the team with 124 hits and second with 102 blocked shots.


INTERESTING STATS

* The Penguins made their first major trade of the season on Feb. 21 when they acquired forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski. Neal, who is highly regarded as one of the top young power forwards in the game, is a three-time 20-goal scorer who ranked third on Dallas this season with 21 goals, and fifth with 39 points, at the time of the trade. He is expected to begin his Penguins' career playing the left side on a line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy.

* Niskanen, 24, is a right-handed shooting defenseman who is in his fourth NHL season. A 2005 first-round pick (28th overall) of the Stars, Niskanen had six assists in 45 games with Dallas this season. His best season came in 2008-09 when he led all Dallas blueliners with 35 points (6G-29A). Niskanen is expected to team with Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy on the team's third D-pairing.

* This is the first meeting between the two teams in Pittsburgh since the Penguins recorded a 2-1 shootout victory at Mellon Arena on Feb. 11, 2009. Sidney Crosby scored the game-deciding shootout goal and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 36 of 37 shots to record the victory. The Penguins are 2-0-1 in their past three home games against the Sharks.

* Pittsburgh owns a 9-4-2 record this season against teams from the Western Conference, including a 5-2 mark at home. The Penguins' nine wins against the West are tied for second-most in the East, while their .667 winning percentage versus the West is tied with Carolina for tops in the Eastern Conference.

* The Penguins will be wearing their powder blue 'third jerseys' for the next-to-last time this season. Pittsburgh owns a 7-3 record this season when they wear blue, including a 6-2 mark in powder blue and a 1-1 record in dark blue. The Penguins own an 18-9-3 all-time record in powder blue since first debuting the jerseys at the 2008 Winter Classic.

* Pittsburgh enters Wednesday's game with 20 home wins in 32 games, the second-most number of home wins in the NHL behind Vancouver, who has 21. The Penguins' 20-11-1 home record includes an 18-7-1 mark over their last 26 games since starting just 2-4 at their new home. Over their past eight home games the Penguins are 6-2 and have surrendered just 11 goals for a 1.36 goals-against average.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Get the New Guys Acclimated: The newest members of the Penguins family – forward James Neal and Matt Niskanen – were unable to practice with Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning at CONSOL Energy Center due to weather conditions. The Penguins will have to find chemistry with their new teammates as quickly as possible against a surging Sharks squad.

Capitalize on Their Fatigue: The Sharks come to CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday having played the night before in Detroit. It marks the second contest of a three-game road swing through the East that came just two home games after a seven-game road trip that spanned from Feb. 2 to Feb. 15. The Penguins, with their bolstered lineup with the arrival of Neal and Niskanen, will need to take advantage of the Sharks' tired legs.


WHO'S HOT

Jordan Staal - While Staal didn't get on the scoresheet Monday in the Penguins' 1-0 loss to the Capitals, he continued to be a force all over the ice. Staal logged 25:16 of ice time, the fourth time in the last six games he's skated for 24-plus minutes. He fired five shots on net and wrecked havoc in front of the cage with his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. Prior to Monday's tilt, Staal had embarked on a five-game point streak that saw him tally three goals and three assists over that stretch.

Devin Setoguchi - Setoguchi collected his first-career hat trick on Feb. 19 to power the Sharks to a 4-0 blanking of Colorado. The 24-year-old forward scored even-strength and with the man-advantage before capping his trick with an unassisted tally. Prior to that game, he had scored in regulation in the Sharks' 2-1 overtime win over Nashville and threw nine pucks to the net in that game. Setoguchi now has 13 points (8G-5A) in his last 12 tilts.




Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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