PENGUINS (1-0-0) at FLAMES (0-0-0)
TV: CBC (HD), ROOT (HD)
Season Series: These teams are meeting for the only time this season. Their only meeting in 2010-11 came in Pittsburgh on Nov. 27, when Sidney Crosby registered a hat trick and scored his 200th career goal in the midst of what would become a historic 25-game point streak. Kris Letang contributed three assists in the 4-1 win, the sixth straight in what would be a 12-game win streak, the Penguins' longest of the season.
Penguins: With Crosby still unavailable due to the fallout from his concussion last January, other players stepped up in Pittsburgh's 4-3 season-opening shootout win Thursday night in Vancouver. Matt Cooke, whose 2010-11 season ended with a 17-game suspension, scored twice while Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves and was perfect in the shootout. Perhaps most important, star center Evgeni Malkin played his first game since Feb. 4 and sealed the shootout win with a gorgeous move to beat Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.
"His glove was great. Real strong down the stretch there," coach Dan Bylsma said of Fleury. "At the end, he made enough quality saves -- some great saves -- to give us a chance and get us the win."
Flames: Looking to avoid the 10-12-2 start that doomed their 2010-11 season, the Flames will be looking to jump out of the gate with a win against the Penguins. They finished the preseason strong, with back-to-back wins over the Islanders and Coyotes by a combined score of 6-2.
Rather than try to attract marquee free agents during the summer, Calgary opted to bring back the core of a team that came within three points of making the playoffs. Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison, and Anton Babchuk all were signed to extensions while longtime Flame Robyn Regehr was traded to Buffalo for Chris Butler. But the core remains from a team that finished eighth in scoring last season.
"I think we've seen and learned -- especially over the course of last year -- that if we wait and play the other team's speed, it doesn't bode well for us," defenseman Cory Sarich told the team's website. "We need to push our game at them."
Who's Hot: Your eyes aren't deceiving you, Matt Cooke was the League leader in goals the morning after opening night. Kris Letang also had a stellar game on Thursday, logging 23:09 of ice time and posting two assists and the shootout winner. … Calgary's David Moss ended his preseason in style, registering two goals and an assist in the team's 4-2 win over Phoenix.
Injury Report: Crosby remains on IR with post-concussion complications, though he is with the team and practicing. Following hernia surgery, Brooks Orpik is skating with the team but it is not a certainty to play and forward Dustin Jeffrey is recovering from a torn ACL. … After battling back spasms, captain Jarome Iginla is expected to be in the lineup for the Flames, but Morrison (knee), Mikael Backlund (broken finger), Brett Carson (back), and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (suspension) are not expected to play.
Stat Pack: Opening night has not been a joyous occasion recently for the Flames. They've lost six of their last seven opening games, with the six losses coming by a combined score of 26-7. … Calgary's power pay has proven to be a very different unit at home compared to on the road. Last season, the Flames ranked second best at home with a man advantage and second worst on the road.
Puck Drop: After spending the past six seasons with the offensively challenged Nashville Predators, Steve Sullivan found himself playing on the Penguins' top line alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal on opening night.
"It's great. I think that he's probably the most talented player I've ever played with," Sullivan said of Malkin. "The things that he can do with the puck are amazing. There are not enough accolades I could give him for what he's been able to do on the ice."