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Little rest as Penguins, Coyotes get right back at it

by Brian Hunter
PENGUINS (6-7-1) at COYOTES (4-5-3)


Last 10:
Pittsburgh 5-4-1; Phoenix 3-4-3

Season Series: First of two meetings this season, with Phoenix traveling to Pittsburgh for a Dec. 20 contest. In the only matchup of the 2009-10 campaign, Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all 24 shots he faced and the Coyotes scored a 3-0 road win over the Penguins on power-play goals by Ed Jovanovski and Petr Prucha, and an empty-netter from Radim Vrbata.

Big Story: Playing for the second-straight night, Pittsburgh is likely to entrust its goaltending duties to Brent Johnson, who continues to push incumbent starter Marc-Andre Fleury for playing time. Fleury dropped to 1-6-0 this season after Friday's 3-2 loss in Anaheim. His goals-against average of 3.32 and save percentage of .861 are way below average. Johnson, on the other hand, is 5-1-1 with one shutout, a 1.71 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Despite finishing with a 32-19 advantage in shots, Pittsburgh came out of Anaheim with only a pair of Sidney Crosby goals and no points in the standings to show for its effort. The Ducks opened up a 3-0 lead in the second period on goals by Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu in a span of under seven minutes. Crosby got one back on a power play late in the second and cut the Penguins' deficit to one early in the third, but they never found the equalizer.

"We need to be consistent," Crosby said. "You can't not give yourself a chance to win. We didn't against Dallas, and tonight we did. You can't make a habit of not giving yourself a chance."

Coyotes: It's also the second night of a back-to-back set for Phoenix, which fared no better than Pittsburgh in the first half. The Coyotes were doubled up 6-3 by the Stars on Friday, and Bryzgalov lasted less just over 25 minutes. He was pulled after a pair of goals by Brad Richards just 1:39 apart gave Dallas a 3-0 lead. The Coyotes battled back, with captain Shane Doan scoring his first goal of the season and Sami Lepisto and Lauri Korpikoski also connecting, but the early hole proved too much to overcome.

"It's disappointing," coach Dave Tippett said. "We got behind early and they got some breaks on some pucks that bounced off our guys and into the net, and we couldn't create the breaks ourselves."

Who's Hot: Not surprisingly, Crosby's 8 goals and 17 points pace the Penguins. Pascal Dupuis has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last four games. … Korpikoski has 3 goals in the last four games for the Coyotes.

Injury Report:
Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal hasn't played yet this season, first recovering from an infection in his foot and now a broken right hand suffered during practice. Staal had surgery on Tuesday and could miss up to six weeks.

Stat Pack:
Crosby hadn't registered a goal in four previous games against Anaheim. Now the only teams he's never scored against in his career are Chicago, Edmonton, St. Louis and San Jose. … Paul Bissonnette recorded six hits for Phoenix in just 7:06 of ice time Friday. His hit total tied Martin Hanzal for the most on the team.

Puck Drop: The Coyotes don't have a player in double digits in points yet -- Jovanovski is their team leader with 3 goals and 6 assists. Among forwards, Lee Stempniak leads with 7 points. On nights when Bryzgalov isn't stellar, such as Friday, they find themselves in a lot of trouble. Since he played less than half the game against the Stars, it's likely Tippett goes right back to Bryzgalov on Saturday.

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