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At the Rink: Penguins at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Looking for an offensive spark, the Pittsburgh Penguins will reunite Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis on their top line when they face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ROOT).

Kunitz will move up from the third line and trade places with Patric Hornqvist, who will skate with center Nick Bonino and Beau Bennett.

Crosby said re-establishing chemistry with Kunitz and Dupuis shouldn't take any time against San Jose.

"We played together for a long time," Crosby said. "We know each other really well. I don't see there being really any adjusting at all. When we've played together we've always talked a lot and tried to discuss a lot as far as in-game, depending on who we're playing and what we see out there. We're all pretty comfortable with where we go and kind of the areas. It should be good."

Kunitz has three goals this season. Crosby has five goals and 10 assists. Dupuis has two goals and two assists.

"Obviously we've had some chemistry in the past," Kunitz said. "We need to go out there and help our team offensively. We need to be a little better. Go out and make sure when we have the puck we're doing the things that me and [Dupuis] do with Sid, and that's retrieve pucks, create turnovers and try to get to good areas.

"A lot of it before was a read and react type of thing. We were really good at hunting pucks down and creating turnovers. So we'd create the scoring chances off pucks laying around or odd-man chances because you created a turnover and could find those areas. It's something our team needs to get better at."

In another change for Pittsburgh, defenseman David Warsofsky will make his Penguins debut, replacing Adam Clendening and skating with Ian Cole. Warsofsky was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Nov. 19.

The Penguins haven't won in San Jose since Oct. 22, 1997, when they defeated the Sharks 5-2. Since then, they've gone 0-9-3 at SAP Center. Last season, the Sharks defeated the Penguins 2-1 in San Jose.

"I don't think I've ever won here," Crosby said. "It would be nice. We had a close one last year, played a great game. So hopefully we can replicate that type of game with a different result. We know that this hasn't been a building that's been too kind to us so we'd like to change that."

San Jose had a pair of goals from defenseman Brent Burns and one from former Penguins defenseman Paul Martin in its victory 10 days ago against Pittsburgh. The Sharks killed five of the Penguins' six power plays and goaltender Martin Jones made 38 saves.

"You got to minimize what [Crosby] gets and take away time and space on him, [Phil] Kessel, [Evgeni] Malkin, Kunitz," Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. "As a team, they're getting going. They have a bunch of lines that can hurt you. Every time we play these guys, you give them time and space they'll make you pay."

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he expects the Penguins to be highly motivated and looking to avenge their loss last month to San Jose.

"We know we’re going to get a response game out of them," DeBoer said. "We know they're going to look at trying to fix some of the things they didn't do against us. Absolutely, this is a tough matchup for us."

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

David Perron - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel

Beau Bennett - Nick Bonino - Patric Hornqvist

Sergei Plotnikov - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Ben Lovejoy

David Warsofsky - Ian Cole

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Olli Maatta (upper body)

Scratched: Adam Clendening, Daniel Sprong


Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Joonas Donskoi - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Matt Nieto - Tomas Hertl - Tommy Wingels

Dainius Zubrus - Chris Tierney - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brenden Dillon

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Mirco Mueller - Matt Tennyson

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Logan Couture (broken leg), Ben Smith (concussion), Justin Braun (left elbow infection, surgery)

Scratched; Karl Stollery

Status report: Braun, who is eligible to come off of injured reserve, skated for the second straight day. DeBoer said Monday that Braun would not play against Pittsburgh, but a change of plans is not out of the question if Braun is medically cleared. ... The Sharks recalled Stollery from San Jose of the AHL, but he's expected to be a healthy scratch.

Who's hot: Malkin has four goals and one assist in his past three games. ... Crosby has a five-game point streak (3-3-6). ... Marleau has a three-game goal streak and a four-game point streak (3-4-7). ... Burns has a four-game point streak with four goals and two assists.

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