The Pittsburgh Penguins have been almost unbeatable at home, which could be bad news for the Boston Bruins when they come to PPG Paints Arena for the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
Pittsburgh is 12-2-1 at home and has won seven in a row on its own ice since losing to the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 10. Overall, the Penguins have won six straight, including a 7-0 home victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. Boston has had an up-and-down season, but comes to Pittsburgh after one of its biggest wins of the season, a 2-1 overtime victory against the archrival Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
Here are 5 reasons to watch this edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry:
The only thing that's been able to keep Pittsburgh's captain off the scoresheet this season has been the concussion that sidelined him for the first six games. In the 23 games since his return, he's scored an NHL-best 21 goals and has five during a four-game goal streak. He's done all that on 78 shots, giving him a shooting percentage of 26.9. At age 29 Crosby shows no signs of slowing down; if anything, he's getting better as he approaches 30.
Video: Sidney Crosby bats puck out of mid-air and into net
Like Crosby, Pittsburgh's rookie goaltender got off to a late start because of injury; Murray broke his right hand playing for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and didn't play his first NHL game until Nov. 2. But he's been lights out since his return: Murray is 11-2-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He's won four in a row, including the shutout against the Coyotes, and is playing even better than he did while helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
Boston's shooting star
At age 20, Bruins forward David Pastrnak is having a breakout season. Pastrnak's 18 goals in 25 games are more than he scored in each of his first two NHL seasons and have him second in the League behind Crosby. Coach Claude Julien said Pastrnak has been Boston's best forward since the beginning of the season, and he's shown the kind of creativity few players can match. Pastrnak's game has become more disciplined without sacrificing any of the imagination that makes him so dangerous.
Video: COL@BOS: Pastrnak scores off feed from Marchand
Crosby's sharpshooting has grabbed most of the spotlight and enabled Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to fly under the radar. But each is off to an excellent start. Malkin has 12 goals and 32 points in 29 games; Kessel, who began his NHL career with Boston, has a Penguins-high 21 assists and is third with 31 points. Each has nine points in Pittsburgh's past five games, and they are a big reason opponents can't gang up on Crosby and his line.
Though the Penguins are a superb home team, the Bruins have played better on the road than they have in Boston. They are 9-5-2 away from TD Garden and have allowed an average of 2.0 goals in those 16 games. The Bruins have also fared well against the Penguins: Their current five-game winning streak against Pittsburgh includes three straight wins at PPG Paints Center, where they haven't lost since Oct. 30, 2013.