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Preview: Coyotes vs. Penguins

Arizona wants to win, keep Sidney Crosby from reaching 1,000 points

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE - The Coyotes will attempt to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champ on Saturday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Arizona time at Gila River Arena.

Arizona (17-28-7) will enter the game looking to rebound from a 5-4 overtime loss to Montreal on Thursday that the players did not take pride in despite the slim margin of defeat.

The consensus among the Coyotes is that if they play on Saturday like they did on Thursday it will be a long, embarrassing night.

"We have to recognize that they are the Stanley Cup champ and they are a very good team," defenseman Michael Stone said. "We did not come out with our best effort on Thursday, so if we come out with something similar to that it's not going to look too good for us."

Video: Coyotes vs. Penguins preview

Goalie Mike Smith is expected to make his eighth consecutive start. 

Center Martin Hanzal will return to the lineup after missing Thursday's game because of illness. Hanzal practiced on Friday and said he felt better.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who began his NHL career with Pittsburgh in 2007-08, will enter the game with a three-game point streak.

"I think everyone knows what kind of team they are," Goligoski said. "They're the champs and their core is really good with really high-end skill. They're going to keep coming at you. They play hard. We know it's going to be a tough game."

Captain Shane Doan will play his 1,519th NHL game and move past Ray Bourque into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time games played list for the same team.

Video: Dave Tippett previews Saturday's game vs. Pens

Pittsburgh (34-13-6) ranks first in the NHL with 188 goals and third in the League with 74 points.

Captain Sidney Crosby is tops in the NHL with 30 goals and co-leads with 60 points. He will enter the game with 998 career points, two shy of reaching 1,000, a milestone only 85 other NHL players have reached. The Coyotes do not want Crosby to accomplish the feat on their home ice and to be forever linked with that memorable moment in his career.

"I don't think you ever want to be on a highlight that's going to be seen for a long time unless it's something you've done well, so, yeah, let's try not to let that happen," Stone said.

Goligoski agreed.

"You want to rally around something like that," Goligoski said. "You definitely don't want to let him get there. He's going to at some point, obviously, but you don't want it to be against you." 

Crosby has produced 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 13 games vs. the Coyotes.

Center Evgeni Malkin, who missed the past six games because of a lower-body injury, practiced Friday but will not play vs. the Coyotes. The Penguins also will play minus injured forwards Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary.

"It's hard to replace those guys," Head Coach Mike Sullivan told the team's web site. "They bring a lot of speed to our lineup. That's one of the reasons they're here. They're all good players in their own right, so when three of them go down at the same time it's a challenge. But as I've always said, it provides opportunities for others to step up, play more significant roles."



TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: KTAR News 92.3 FM


Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup. #PITvsARI


Tweet from @ArizonaDOT: I-10 WB will close this weekend from 51st - 75th aves #PhxTraffic


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