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Boston chases sixth straight road win in Pittsburgh

by Brian Hunter
BRUINS (29-23-11) at PENGUINS (39-22-4)

Last 10: Boston 6-2-2; Pittsburgh 6-1-3

Season series:
Third of four meetings this season. Boston and Pittsburgh met twice in the span of five days in November, with varying results. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas stopped all 27 shots he faced in a 3-0 win at TD Garden on Nov. 10, but the Penguins rallied for a 6-5 overtime win at Mellon Arena on Nov. 15, with Pascal Dupuis scoring 1:24 into the extra period after Bill Guerin tied the score with 0.4 seconds left in regulation.

Big story:
While the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins have surged back into first place in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in the process of re-establishing themselves following a disastrous 10-game losing streak that temporarily dropped them out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. They've won six of seven since to jump back into seventh place.

Team Scope:

A seven-game road trip at this point in the season, when teams are jockeying for position, might not seem like a recipe for success. But Boston has been getting the job done away from home. The Bruins opened the trip Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 win over the Islanders, their fifth straight on the road. Thomas, who has regained the starting role at least temporarily with Tuukka Rask nursing a knee injury, stopped 37 shots.

"The game he played before this one he was outstanding as well," coach Claude Julien said, referring to a 3-2 shootout win against Toronto. "You're not a Vezina Trophy winner one year and the next year you're not a good goaltender. It's just about finding his game, and he's finding it at the right time."

After entering the Olympic break struggling, losing four of five, Pittsburgh has emerged from the two-week respite with three consecutive victories. The Penguins have scored 14 goals in the process. Sidney Crosby had two of them Saturday afternoon against the Stars, helping the Penguins rally from a 3-1 deficit for a 6-3 win. Crosby has a career-high 44 goals this season, putting him in the lead for the Rocket Richard Trophy.

"I never doubted our guys," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "That is the thing about our guys -- no mater what the score is everybody still believes we can come back. We showed that."

Who's hot:
Veteran forward Miroslav Satan has two goals, two assists and a plus-4 rating in his last five games for the Bruins. Thomas has limited the opponent to two goals in three of his last four starts.

Crosby has 14 goals and 12 assists in the Penguins' last 15 games. Sergei Gonchar has a goal and seven assists during a six-game points streak. Chris Kunitz has two goals and three assists in the last two games. Jordan Staal has five goals and five assists in his last nine games.

Injury report:
Rask and Andrew Ference (groin) are day-to-day for Boston. …  Guerin missed Saturday's game for Pittsburgh with back spasms, while Eric Godard is out with a groin injury.

Stat pack: The Bruins beat the Islanders despite being outshot 35-18 over the final two periods. They held a 16-4 shots advantage in the first. … Three different Penguins hit games-played milestones on Saturday: Mike Rupp (400), Evgeni Malkin (300) and Kris Letang (200). Malkin's career-high 15-game points streak came to an end.

Puck drop: This is the second matinee affair in as many days for both teams. Pittsburgh puts its solid 20-10-3 home record on the line against a Boston club that has put it together away from TD Garden.

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