Penguins look to continue recent success vs. Devils
PENGUINS (21-12-4) at DEVILS (20-15-1)
TV: ROOT (MSG), MSG PLUS
Pittsburgh 5-5-0; New Jersey 7-3-0
This is the second of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. Pittsburgh beat New Jersey, 4-1, on Oct. 22 at Consol Energy Center.
It's the final game of 2011 for two teams that have certainly had an interesting year. The Penguins have been dealing with the concussion issue surrounding superstar Sidney Crosby
, who remains out of the lineup indefinitely with a recurrence of symptoms. The Devils have experienced a remarkable turnaround after a dreadful finish to 2010. They have gone 48-29-4 in 2011, including a 28-14-3 record from Jan. 1 through the end of last season. The Devils were 32-40-8 in 2010.
Philadelphia's 4-2 win in Pittsburgh on Thursday brought an end to the Penguins' four-game winning streak. They are 5-4 since Crosby left the lineup after a loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5. However, Evgeni Malkin
has 19 points on 6 goals and 13 assists in the nine games the Penguins have played without their captain.
Pittsburgh has won three straight against the Devils, allowing only three goals in the process. The Penguins are 5-1-1 with only nine goals allowed in their last seven games against the Devils. Marc-Andre Fleury
has a personal four-game winning streak against New Jersey with a 0.98 goals-against average.
The Penguins will be getting defenseman Deryk Engelland
back now that he is done serving a three-game suspension.
New Jersey is coming off a 3-1 win over Buffalo, and will likely be getting defenseman Henrik Tallinder back in the lineup for Saturday afternoon's game against Pittsburgh. Tallinder has missed the last six games with back spasms.
"Timing is most important," Tallinder said Thursday. "Just timing and trying to see the play develop and stuff like that. It takes hopefully a couple of shifts, only. We'll see."
The Devils, though, were playing well without Tallinder. They won four of the six games he missed and have won six of their last eight games overall. Petr Sykora scored twice in the win over Buffalo on Wednesday and Zach Parise broke a four-game goalless streak with his 12th of the season.
Malkin has been sizzling since Crosby was forced out of the lineup. He added another assist in Thursday's loss. … Patrik Elias had 2 assists in the Devils' win over the Sabres, giving him 9 points in his last seven games.
The Penguins will be without Crosby (concussion symptoms), Kris Letang
(concussion symptoms), Paul Martin
(lower body), Robert Bortuzzo
(concussion), Richard Park
(fractured foot) and Dustin Jeffrey
(knee). … The Devils still won't have Andy Greene (toe) and Jacob Josefsen (broken clavicle).
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is expected to start against the Penguins. He is 8-1-1 with a 0.79 GAA and four shutouts in his last 10 starts against vs. Pittsburgh. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will move into sole possession of second place on the franchise's all-time wins list with his next victory. Bylsma is currently tied with Michel Therrien with 135 victories. Ed Johnston's 232 wins are the most in franchise history.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer, in The (Bergen) Record on Crosby being out of action: "There's no doubt it hurts the sport. It's the equivalent of Michael Jordan sitting out in his heyday or Wayne Gretzky sitting out in his heyday, Peyton Manning in football. It's a tough loss for the League, and I think everybody hopes that he gets back healthy sooner than later."