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Wild at Penguins preview

Minnesota 1-4-1 in past six games; Crosby returns to Pittsburgh lineup

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

WILD (20-19-6) at PENGUINS (28-12-5) 



The Game

Sidney Crosby will return after missing 28 games when the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Minnesota Wild at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.

The center last played in a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 9 before having core muscle surgery Nov. 14. He has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 17 games this season. 

The Penguins, who are six points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division, are 18-6-4 without Crosby this season. They have won three in a row, seven of their past nine (7-1-1) and 14 of their past 18 (14-3-1).

The Wild are 0-2-1 in their past three games, and 1-4-1 in their past six after winning three of their previous four (3-1-0). They have scored one goal in each of their past two games, a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday and a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk will start a second straight game for Minnesota after making 26 saves Sunday.


Players to watch

Wild forward Marcus Foligno has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past four games.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 26 games with Crosby sidelined. He has 22 (seven goals, 15 assists) in his past 15 games.


They said it

"We know that the last few games haven't gone the way that we wanted them to. Tonight, playing one of the best teams in the League, we're going to have to be ready to go." -- Wild defenseman Ryan Suter

"I'm happy to be playing. The guys have played great. Just want to come in and help." -- Penguins center Sidney Crosby


Wild projected lineup

Jason Zucker -- Eric Staal -- Mats Zuccarello

Zach Parise -- Mikko Koivu -- Kevin Fiala

Marcus Foligno -- Joel Eriksson Ek -- Luke Kunin

Jordan Greenway -- Victor Rask -- Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter -- Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin -- Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy -- Greg Pateryn

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Ryan Donato, Nick Seeler, Brad Hunt

Injured: None


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Dominik Simon

Dominik Kahun -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Agozzino -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson -- John Marino

Juuso Riikola -- Chad Ruhwedel

Tristan Jarry

Matt Murray

Scratched: Kevin Czuczman, Sam Lafferty

Injured: Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Justin Schultz (lower body), Jake Guentzel (shoulder surgery) 


Status report

Rask returns after being scratched Sunday. … Pittsburgh re-assigned forward Joseph Blandisi to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League with Crosby returning.


Stat pack

Koivu needs two assists for 500 in the NHL. … Letang is one assist from 400. … Rust has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past nine games.

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