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Daily Primer Oct. 19: Penguins try to keep rolling

by John Kreiser

The Pittsburgh Penguins have wasted little time putting distance between themselves and the rest of the new Metropolitan Division. Less than three weeks into the season, they've piled up 12 points, tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings for the most in the Eastern Conference. Only two teams in their division, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders, are within eight points of Pittsburgh entering the weekend.

The Penguins play the first of 13 games on Saturday's schedule when they host the Vancouver Canucks (1 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Here's a look at a full Saturday of game action:

Vancouver Canucks at Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Canucks are 2-for-2 so far on their seven-game road trip after wins against the Philadelphia Flyers (2-1) and Buffalo Sabres (3-0). But the opposition gets a lot tougher as they come to Consol Energy Center. Not only have the Penguins won six of their first seven games, but they're 4-0-0 at home, have allowed only five goals in the four victories and are coming off a 4-1 win in Philadelphia on Thursday. Two contenders for the starting goaltender's job on Canada's Olympic team are expected to face each other: Vancouver's Roberto Luongo led the 2010 team to the gold medal; Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury owns a Stanley Cup title, something that has eluded Luongo in his career.

Edmonton Oilers at Ottawa Senators -- The Oilers play their fifth road game in eight days, and they come to Canadian Tire Centre with just one point after the first four. Taylor Hall broke Wayne Gretzky's team record by scoring twice in only eight seconds during the first period against the New York Islanders on Thursday, but those were the only goals Edmonton scored in a 3-2 loss. Ottawa played its first six games on the road before coming home Thursday and beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 behind a 40-save effort by Craig Anderson. But Anderson's save total is a symptom of a potential problem for the Senators, who are allowing a League-high 42 shots per game.

Colorado Avalanche at Buffalo Sabres -- Patrick Roy had to settle for sharing the record for most games without a loss from the start of a coaching career when the Detroit Red Wings beat Colorado 4-2 on Thursday night, ending Colorado's 6-0-0 run. The Avalanche will try to begin a new streak against the Sabres, who continue to struggle to put the puck in the net and are 1-7-1 through nine games. The Sabres' rookies held a "dance off' on Friday in an effort to lighten the tension after Buffalo lost 3-0 at home to Vancouver on Thursday. The Sabres have scored more than one goal in a game just twice this season.

Nashville Predators at Montreal Canadiens -- Forgive these teams if they're not too familiar with each other; this is only the seventh time they've played in 10 years. The Predators are starting a three-game trip after concluding a five-game homestand by losing 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout on Thursday night. Nashville retooled its forward lines during the offseason but is still averaging just 2.0 goals per game. The Canadiens finished a western Canada trip with three consecutive wins and extended their winning streak to four by beating Columbus 5-3 on Thursday, a game they won after blowing a 3-0 lead.

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning-- The Bruins try for the Sunshine State sweep, but beating the Lightning figures to be tougher than Thursday's 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers. The Lightning have won five of their first seven games, and a big reason (in more ways than one) is Ben Bishop, an unheralded acquisition by Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman last spring. The 6-foot-7 goaltender is a perfect 5-0-0 after Thursday's 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild, has a goals-against average of 1.57 and has allowed eight goals on 140 shots for a save percentage of .943

Minnesota Wild at Florida Panthers -- The Wild and Bruins flip Florida opponents from Thursday, with the Wild hoping they'll have more success against the Panthers than they did against the Lightning. Mikko Koivu's third-period goal represented all of the offense for the Wild at Tampa. Minnesota could have starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom back in the lineup for the first time since he left the team's game at Nashville on Oct. 8 with a leg injury. Florida got its starting goaltender, Tim Thomas, back from an injury on Thursday, but it didn't help as Boston scored in the final minute of regulation for a 3-2 victory, sending Florida to its fifth loss in seven games.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils -- This is the seventh of nine games on the Rangers' season-opening trip, but they should feel right at home -- not only will they be only a few miles from Madison Square Garden, they're also sure to see plenty of blue jerseys in the crowd. What they won't see is captain Ryan Callahan in the lineup; he broke his left thumb during Wednesday's 2-0 victory against the Washington Capitals. The Devils, returning home after an 0-3-2 road trip, will start Cory Schneider in goal in hopes of ending their season-opening seven-game winless streak, the longest since the franchise moved to New Jersey 31 years ago.

Carolina Hurricanes at New York Islanders -- Carolina's winning goal in Thursday's 3-2 road victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs quickly went viral; Ron Hainsey's 170-footer bounced off the boards and caromed into the net off goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The Islanders are 2-0-2 at home this season and 7-0-3 in their last 10 games at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, their longest streak of games with points at home since 1989-90. That's one-third of the franchise record, a 28-0-2 streak in 1982.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Chicago Blackhawks -- The good news for Toronto was that goaltender James Reimer was back at practice Friday; he left Toronto's game the previous night 32 seconds after the opening faceoff after being run over by a teammate and taking a blow to the head. Coach Randy Carlyle said Reimer should be ready to play when the Maple Leafs take the ice at United Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). Chicago is off to a 4-1-2 start, but two of the four non-victories have come at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, who won 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago on Thursday. After watching his team struggle to put the puck in the net (six goals in three games), coach Joel Quenneville moved Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad onto a line with Jonathan Toews and put Michal Handzus between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals -- After playing in opposite conferences since Columbus entered the NHL in 2000, these two teams find themselves in the same division, the Metropolitan. The Capitals won the final Southeast Division title last season despite a 2-8-1 start; if they're going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, they'll have to overcome a 2-5-0 start that includes a 2-0 home loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. Columbus, which moved from the Western Conference, is having some early struggles in the East. The Blue Jackets are 2-4-0 and have dropped three in a row after losing 5-3 at Montreal on Thursday despite two goals by rookie Boone Jenner.

Detroit Red Wings at Phoenix Coyotes -- The Red Wings ended Colorado's perfect season on Thursday with a 4-2 victory in Denver and bring a 6-2-0 record and a four-game winning streak to the desert. One catalyst for the streak has been newcomer Daniel Alfredsson, who has a goal and seven assists in the four games after managing a lone assist during Detroit's first four games. Phoenix couldn't hold a 2-1 lead in the final minutes of regulation on the road against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night and wound up with a 3-2 loss in a shootout.

Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks -- The Flames might have played their best game of the season Wednesday night in Anaheim, but the Ducks still beat them 3-2, extending Calgary's losing streak at Honda Center to 17 games. At 3-1-2, they're off to a better start than almost anyone expected. San Jose is no longer perfect after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday in Texas, a game that saw the Sharks blow three one-goal leads. This is San Jose's last home game of the month; the Sharks play their next five away from SAP Center at San Jose, including four in a row against Eastern Conference opponents.

Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings -- The Stars come to southern California for the weekend having split six games, including their 4-3 shootout victory against the Sharks at home two nights ago. They're still without No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who's recuperating from a lower-body injury but isn't ready to return. The Kings scored six non-shootout goals during their four-game road trip but won three of the four, two in shootouts. Defenseman Slava Voynov has both of L.A.'s goals in the past two games. L.A. has won five of eight so far this season, but three of the wins have come in shootouts and one in overtime. In regulation, the Kings are 1-3-0.

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