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Crosby and Penguins aim to keep rolling vs. Blues

by Sergei J. Feldman

BLUES (10-8-2) at PENGUINS (12-6-3)

TV: FS-Midwest (HD), ROOT (HD)

Last 10: St. Louis (5-3-2); Pittsburgh (5-4-1)

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings between the Pens and Blues. They play again Jan. 24 in St. Louis. The Blues won the only game last season, 1-0 in overtime. Erik Johnson scored the game-winning tally and Jaroslav Halak outplayed Brent Johnson for the win.

Big Story: The Sidney Crosby Show continues when the Blues invade Consol Energy Center. Crosby made his return to the lineup Monday against the New York Islanders after being sidelined since Jan. 5 with a concussion and delivered with two goals and two assists in a 5-0 win. Meanwhile, the Blues hope to get back on the winning track after losing 3-2 at home to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Blues: Prior to the loss to the Kings, the Blues were 4-0-2 under new coach Ken Hitchcock. While the recent success has meant good things for St. Louis, even better things are on the horizon. Like Crosby in Pittsburgh, talented forward David Perron is inching closer to returning to the ice. Perron has not played since Nov. 4, 2010, but is ready to participate in contact drills.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm a long ways from where I was when I started skating. There's still a ways to go, but we move forward."

As the Blues wait for Perron's return and feel good about their recent stretch of solid play, they skate into Pittsburgh feeling they let a chance to grab two points slip away against the Kings, a game in which the Blues struck first and tied the game at 2-2 in the third before letting the Kings come back and win.

"It's a frustrating loss for the players to battle back like we did and give it up so quickly," coach Hitchcock said. "It's a tough loss."

Penguins: Crosby was the talk of the town since the Penguins announced he'd e ready to go against the Islanders and the team is enjoying having their "Big Four" all healthy and in the lineup, as Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury are all ready to lead a club that many consider to be the favorite in the Eastern Conference. As well as the Penguins have played for the better part of this season, the team stumbled during a recent two-game Florida trip, losing to the Lightning and Panthers. With Crosby in the mix, the Pens are in the midst of a three-game homestand that started with the rout of the Isles. Crosby just hopes to keep the momentum going as he grows accustomed to life back in the NHL.

"I think that's normal for a first game, running on adrenaline," he told "There are things as the games go on I have to improve and get better. It's only going to happen through playing so I just have to make sure that I'm aware of w hat that is and work hard at adjusting as soon as I can."

Who's Hot: While Crosby, Malkin, Staal and James Neal lead the offensive charge more often than not for the Penguins, role player Pascal Dupuis is playing some of his best hockey this season and has seven points in his past five games. … The Blues, meanwhile, are led by the play of Alex Steen, who has five points in his past five outings.

Injury Report: Dustin Jeffrey is day-to-day with a knee injury for the Penguins, while Ben Lovejoy is out indefinitely with a broken wrist. … The Blues put defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (hamstring) on IR Tuesday; he joins Perron, Kent Huskins (ankle) and Andy McDonald (concussion).

Stat Pack: When Crosby returned against the Islanders, it marked just the third time in the past two seasons that he and Malkin and Staal were on the ice together.

Puck Drop: The Penguins will honor their 25,000,000th fan -- the team will pass that milestone Wednesday night. Since the team entered the NHL in 1967, the Penguins have drawn 24,983,853 fans for regular-season and playoff games.

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