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Daily Primer Dec. 19: Penguins aim for 6th straight win @NHLdotcom

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been playing without their top four defensemen yet they keep finding ways to win.

The Penguins (25-10-1) will look to make it six in a row when they host the Minnesota Wild at Consol Energy Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, FS-N, ROOT). Pittsburgh extended its winning streak to five with a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Sidney Crosby had two assists for the Penguins, who are without Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik.

Here's a closer look at the action Thursday:

Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres -- Boston earned a 2-0 win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday behind two goals from Zdeno Chara and 21 saves from Tuukka Rask. Jarome Iginla has two goals and four assists in the past three games for the Bruins. Buffalo rallied with three goals in the third period of a 4-2 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Matt Moulson, who put the Sabres ahead, has six goals and 13 points in 21 games since being acquired from the New York Islanders.

Phoenix Coyotes at Toronto Maple Leafs -- Phoenix will be looking to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, and the Coyotes will again be without captain Shane Doan due to an illness. The Maple Leafs dropped a 3-1 decision to the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, their 11th loss in the past 15 games. Toronto has allowed three or more goals in 12 of its past 13 and is 4-11-1 when its opponent scores first.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Philadelphia Flyers -- It's the first of a home-and-home series that will conclude Saturday at Nationwide Arena. Flyers goalie Steve Mason will face his former team for the first time; Mason was traded by Columbus to Philadelphia at last season's NHL Trade Deadline. The Blue Jackets are hoping injured forward Marian Gaborik (knee) and defenseman James Wisniewski (upper body) will be available Saturday. Flyers forward Brayden Schenn is hopeful he'll be able to play Thursday after taking a hard hit from Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Tuesday.

Minnesota Wild at Pittsburgh Penguins -- Minnesota opens a four-game road trip without goalie Josh Harding, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Harding is undergoing changes in his treatment plan to deal with his multiple sclerosis and is expected back immediately following the holiday break. Pittsburgh, seeking its sixth straight win, will have forward James Neal back in the lineup. Neal finished serving his five-game suspension Wednesday and provides the Penguins with more offense while their defensemen try to heal.

Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators -- Florida is finding its way under interim coach Peter Horachek. The Panthers enter Thursday with a four-game winning streak and six victories in their past seven games. Ottawa held a closed-door meeting following its latest setback, a 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Wednesday.

Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings -- The Flames continue a five-game road trip that has seen them go 1-1-1 thus far. After earning points in the first two games, Calgary was shut out in a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Detroit will try to end a six-game winless streak. The Red Wings have lost five straight in regulation at Joe Louis Arena and are 2-7-1 in their past 10 games in Motown.

Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning -- This is the first game between the Predators and Lightning since Oct. 27, 2011. Each team has won three of its past four games; the Lightning rallied from a late 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 shootout victory against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, and Nashville saw its three-game winning streak end with a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Predators goalie Carter Hutton has stopped 121 of the past 128 shots he's faced.

Montreal Canadiens at St. Louis Blues -- Montreal opens a six-game road trip, its longest of the season, at Scottrade Center. The Canadiens have played well on the road recently; they are 6-1-1 in their past eight games away from Bell Centre. The Blues signed forward Alexander Steen to a three-year contract extension Wednesday. Steen, 29, has 22 goals in 33 games this season.

Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars -- Vancouver saw its seven-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday. The Canucks had killed 20 straight power plays before Zach Parise scored with the man advantage. The Stars are coming off a home-and-home series with the Colorado Avalanche, which was split. Dallas dropped a 6-2 decision in Colorado on Monday then responded with a 3-2 victory at American Airlines Center 24 hours later.

Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche -- Edmonton has lost four in a row, all in regulation. Offense has been a problem for the Oilers; they have been shut out twice in the past three games. The Avalanche are coming off a home-and-home series split against Dallas. Matt Duchene ended Colorado's 0-for-31 power-play drought on Tuesday.

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings -- The Sharks conclude their three-game road with a tough Pacific Division battle at Staples Center. San Jose dropped a 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators on Saturday but bounced back with an impressive 4-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Goaltender Martin Jones continues to be the story in Los Angeles. He is 6-0-0 with an 0.82 goals-against average and .972 save percentage.

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