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Bruins-Penguins Preview

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have the league's leading scorer and are on pace for their best regular season record in 14 years. The formula for beating the Boston Bruins, however, continues to elude them.

The Penguins try to end a nine-game losing streak to the struggling Bruins when the teams meet at Mellon Arena on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (42-23-10) rebounded from consecutive road losses with its fifth straight home victory Saturday, 2-1 over Atlanta.

Rookie Jordan Staal scored a fluke goal with 9:41 remaining and backup Jocelyn Thibault stopped 25 shots for the Penguins, who had won five in a row before losses to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

"I was trying to stop it and it just went right over my stick," Staal said. "It must be the fans or something, when all those people are cheering for us the good bounces are going to go our way."

Despite the victory, Pittsburgh remained fifth in the Eastern Conference and four points behind fourth-place Ottawa. The Penguins are two points behind Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey, but have played one more game than the Devils.

Pittsburgh, though, only has a pair of shootout losses to show in its first two meetings with the Bruins (34-34-6) this season. The Penguins are 0-6-3 against Boston since a 3-2 victory on Nov. 1, 2003.

Thibault turned in another strong performance in his eighth appearance in Pittsburgh's last 18 games. Thibault, who has allowed three total goals in his last three starts, has a better goals-against average and save percentage than starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

Sidney Crosby - the NHL leader with 108 points - was held off the scoresheet for the third consecutive game, matching the longest drought of his brief career. He has one goal and five assists in five games against the Bruins.

"Consistency that's the biggest part," Crosby said. "Sometimes you slip up, there's little bumps in the road but you deal with it and you try to get through it. It's important not to let your game slide and change how you play and get into bad habits and things like that."

Evgeni Malkin assisted on Michel Ouellet's first-period goal. The second overall pick in 2004, Malkin has two goals and eight assists in his last nine games, and leads all rookies with 31 goals, 47 assists and 78 points.

Boston's late-season collapse continued Saturday with a 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers. Joey MacDonald made Marc Savard's second-period goal stand as the game's only tally until he allowed Thomas Pock's goal with 1:40 left in regulation. MacDonald then was beaten by Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr in the shootout.

The Bruins have scored only four goals during a four-game losing streak - one shy of a season high - and have lost seven of nine.

MacDonald, claimed off waivers from Detroit on Feb. 24, finished with a career-high 35 saves in his first start in Boston.

"We have big game again, tomorrow," MacDonald said. "I'm sure if we play like that again tomorrow, we are going to have another good chance to win."

Savard's goal ended his three-game pointless streak, matching a season high. He leads the team with 92 points, five shy of matching his career best set last season with Atlanta.

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