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Penguins-Thrashers Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:46 AM

Associated Press

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Penguins-Thrashers Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Atlanta Thrashers

The surging offense of the Pittsburgh Penguins went silent in their most recent game, putting an end to their six-game winning streak. To get back in the win column, they'll have to do better in a venue where they've struggled in recent years.

Pittsburgh will try to bounce back Thursday at Philips Arena against the Atlanta Thrashers, who also had a lengthy winning streak snapped in their latest game.

The Penguins scored just 25 goals in their first 11 games, never scoring more than four, but they found the back of the net 30 times in winning six straight. Pittsburgh (11-4-3) failed to extend its streak to seven on Tuesday, however, after losing 2-1 in a shootout to Minnesota.

"We had opportunities, for sure," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "A lot of teams play well defensively. ... Our game doesn't change, we're still going to get chances if we do the right things."

Pittsburgh now visits Atlanta, a place where it hasn't had much success since Crosby came into the league. The Penguins are 1-3-2 in six games at Philips Arena since the start of the 2005-06 season, and they've lost three straight there - two in shootouts.

Crosby has had some success in Atlanta, posting four goals and two assists in his past three games there, but Evgeni Malkin, the league's leading scorer (seven goals, 23 assists), hasn't fared as well. Malkin, who had his 13-game point streak snapped in the loss to the Wild, has one assist in his past three trips to Philips Arena and hasn't scored a goal in his last seven games overall against Atlanta.

"Against Pittsburgh you've go to be smart," Thrashers goaltender Johan Hedberg said. "You've really got to focus on the defensive part of the game. You have to pay attention to Malkin and Crosby and maybe (check) them a little extra."

The Thrashers (7-8-2) bounced back from a 2-7-2 start to win their next five, but they couldn't extend that streak to six, which would have been a franchise record.

Atlanta rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits Sunday at Philadelphia, tying the score at 3 midway through the third period. Despite being outshot 21-4 in the third, the Flyers scored to win 4-3.

Hedberg, who played three seasons with the Penguins from 2000-2003, has started the Thrashers' last four games with Kari Lehtonen sidelined due to a bad back. He's made one career start against his former team, a 4-3 overtime win in 2003 while with Vancouver.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will be starting a backup as well. Starter Marc-Andre Fleury missed the loss to the Wild with an undisclosed injury and won't play Thursday. Fleury's injury isn't thought to be serious, but the Penguins are taking a cautious approach.

That means Dany Sabourin will get his sixth start of the season, and his performance so far has hardly been indicative of a backup. Sabourin is 3-1-1 with a 1.51 goals-against average, and three of his wins have come in shootouts.

Center Brian Little, Atlanta's leading scorer (nine goals, eight assists), has a point in six straight games.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 17 '09 ATL 2 at PIT 6 J. Staal
Jan 06 '09 ATL 1 at PIT 3 P. Sykora
Dec 18 '08 PIT 6 at ATL 3 M. Satan
Nov 20 '08 PIT 3 at ATL 2 P. Sykora
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
E. Malkin1972431+51240
S. Crosby1971825+51620
M. Satan199716-11841
J. Staal197512+61301
T. Kennedy195712+7402
P. Sykora164812-3432
A. Goligoski18459+4630
K. Letang19099+2800
R. Fedotenko18448+11002
M. Cooke15268+21000
M. Talbot18426-1600
B. Orpik19134+41610
M. Zigomanis17134-21000
P. Dupuis17213-3601
R. Scuderi19123+0400
P. Boucher18033-21900
D. Sydor8112+5200
E. Godard19011-34600
H. Gill16011-11500
M. Eaton14000+01000
P. Bissonnette6000-11000
B. Thomas2000+0000
C. Minard2000-2000
J. Taffe1000-1200
J. Pesonen1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Fleury148-3-2404302.86.907
D. Sabourin64-1-191511.59.940
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
V. Kozlov1811617+1831
B. Little189817+8612
I. Kovalchuk1861117-2820
T. White1841115+3620
R. Hainsey183912+0220
J. Williams186410-4242
E. Christensen17178-7400
C. Armstrong18257-11800
T. Enstrom18167-11801
M. Reasoner18426+21600
E. Perrin18145-2400
M. Schneider13145-111610
N. Havelid18055+51400
J. Slater18224-3600
G. Exelby18022+03100
B. Sterling3101-2000
C. Thorburn18011-41800
E. Boulton16011-34200
N. Oystrick10000-2200
Z. Bogosian8000-21300
B. Valabik5000+1800
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Hedberg73-3-0231904.04.879
K. Lehtonen92-5-2313193.44.903
O. Pavelec42-1-09852.71.894