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Daily Primer Dec. 16: Maple Leafs visit Penguins

Monday, 12.16.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins are experiencing difficulty staying healthy, but the wins just keep on coming.

Pittsburgh (23-10-1), which is without key defensemen such as Kris Letang (lower body), Paul Martin (broken leg), Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) and Brooks Orpik (head), will seek its fourth straight win Monday night when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, RDS, SNET-O, ROOT).

Here's a closer look at the action Monday:

Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins -- Toronto looks to make it two in a row after an impressive 7-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday that was paced by a four-point night from Joffrey Lupul (two goals, two assists). The Maple Leafs had gone 12 games without a regulation victory. Pittsburgh continues to sit atop the Metropolitan Division despite a rash of injuries, including Evgeni Malkin. The Russian center is questionable to play due to a leg injury sustained Saturday in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. Malkin ranks second on the Penguins with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists) in 32 games.

Winnipeg Jets at Columbus Blue Jackets -- It's the first of a stretch that will see the Jets play five games in eight days. Winnipeg hopes to use this time to get back into the playoff mix in the Western Conference; they enter Monday 10 points out of a spot. Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec was chased in a 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Columbus is three points out of a playoff spot; the Blue Jackets trail the third-place Carolina Hurricanes by three points in the Metropolitan. Ryan Johansen has four goals and six assists during an eight-game point streak.

St. Louis Blues at Ottawa Senators -- St. Louis is aiming to build off the momentum from Saturday, when it rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a 4-3 win against Columbus. Blues forward Chris Stewart missed the second period with a hand injury, but returned in the third and tied the game with less than seven minutes to play. St. Louis has won three straight and four of its past five games. Ottawa hopes to respond following a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, when goalie Craig Anderson was pulled after allowing two goals on four shots in the first 4:18. Former Senators goalie Brian Elliott is expected to get the start for St. Louis.

Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche -- The Stars and Avalanche begin a home-and-home series at Pepsi Center, where Dallas will wrap up a three-game road trip. The Stars bounced back from a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday by earning a 6-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Saturday. Dallas forward Tyler Seguin had two goals and two assists and defenseman Sergei Gonchar added four assists in the victory. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Sunday that Semyon Varlamov (14-8-1, 2.40 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) will get the start in goal. Colorado is 10-5-1 on home ice this season.

Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp