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Preview: Bruins at Penguins

Pittsburgh 16-4-2 in past 22 games; Boston aims to end three-game losing streak

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

BRUINS (23-20-6) at PENGUINS (29-11-5)

3 p.m. ET; NHL Network, SN, ROOT, NESN, NHL.TV

 

Bruins team scope

The Boston Bruins will look to end a three-game losing streak (0-2-1). Boston had its best defensive performance of the three losses Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks, but was shut out for the second time in three games, 1-0. "My job is to coach and do everything I can," Bruins coach Claude Julien told Comcast Sportsnet New England. "I'm not quitting on this team and I'm not quitting on anybody." The New York Islanders shut out Boston 4-0 on Monday and the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Bruins 6-5 in a shootout on Wednesday. Boston, 3-5-2 in January, will play two of its next three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated Boston 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 14 in their first meeting this season. Goaltender Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 37 shots in that loss, and has given up at least three goals in four of his past five starts since making 25 saves to shut out the Florida Panthers on Jan. 7. Boston likely will be without defensemen Colin Miller (lower body) and Kevan Miller (concussion) again Sunday. Neither participated in the Bruins' practice Saturday. Forward Patrice Bergeron has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past seven games, and defenseman Torey Krug has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past six games.

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh will return home, where it is 19-2-2, after playing twice on the road. The Penguins will try to win their fourth straight game after losing their previous three, and are 16-4-2 since the beginning of December. Pittsburgh defeated the Washington Capitals 8-7 in overtime at home on Monday before winning consecutive road games, 4-1 against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday and 7-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. "We've certainly been encouraged with the way our team is trending right now," coach Mike Sullivan said, "because I think we're becoming a much more difficult team to play against. I think we're getting contributions throughout our lineup." That surge has come without defensive leader Kris Letang, week-to-week with a lower-body injury sustained against the Red Wings on Jan. 14. In Letang's defenseman Justin Schultz has continued to produce, with six assists in his past three games. Schultz is fourth on the Penguins in scoring with 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists), behind forwards Evgeni Malkin (52 points), Sidney Crosby (51) and Phil Kessel (44). Schultz's defense partner, Trevor Daley, has one goal and three assists in his past three games. With fourth-line center Matt Cullen out approximately 3-4 weeks with a foot injury, forward Eric Fehr has slotted into his spot the past two games, with one goal and one assist.

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Frank Vatrano

Tim Schaller -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Ryan Spooner -- Riley Nash -- David Backes

Matt Beleskey -- Dominic Moore -- Austin Czarnik

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug -- Adam McQuaid

Joe Morrow -- John-Michael Liles

Tuukka Rask

Zane McIntyre

Scratched: Anton Blidh, Jimmy Hayes, Anton Khudobin

Injured: Colin Miller (lower body), Kevan Miller (concussion)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Conor Sheary -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz -- Eric Fehr -- Scott Wilson

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Cameron Gaunce -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Tom Kuhnhackl, Steve Oleksy

Injured: Brian Dumoulin (broken jaw), Kris Letang (lower body), Matt Cullen (foot)

 

Status report

Hayes rotated with Backes at third-line right wing during Boston's practice Saturday. Blidh rotated with Beleskey at fourth-line left wing. … Wilson practiced Saturday after leaving Pittsburgh's game against Carolina with an undisclosed injury Friday. He is expected to play Sunday. … Sullivan has not announced the Penguins starting goalie.

 

Who's hot

Marchand has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past nine games. He leads the Bruins with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists), 12 more than Pastrnak. … Malkin has nine points (six goals, three assists) in a six-game point streak and 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in his past 13 games. … Crosby has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in his past 14 games. … Sheary has six points (four goals, two assists) in his past three games. 

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