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Neal returns to Pittsburgh, Predators visit Penguins

by Benjamin Zweiman

PREDATORS (31-11-6) at PENGUINS (28-13-8)


Season series: Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-0 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 25.

Predators team scope: Former Penguins forward James Neal will play his first game in Pittsburgh since being traded to Nashville on June 27, 2014. "I'm not too worried about it or thinking about it too much," Neal told the Predators website Saturday. "I think playing [the Penguins in October] in Nashville kind of washed that away and I really haven't looked back. We've been having great success here, and it's really all I’m focused on." Nashville lost back-to-back games for the second time this season with a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Goaltender Marek Mazanec allowed two goals on 27 shots in his first start of the season. The Predators are 1-2-2 in their past five games following a five-game winning streak.

Penguins team scope: Center Evgeni Malkin, who has missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury, practiced Saturday for the first time since the All-Star break. Malkin won't play Sunday but told the Penguins website there's a good chance he returns during Pittsburgh's road trip that begins Wednesday at the Edmonton Oilers. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was injured Wednesday and did not play in a 2-1 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, will have more concussion tests. "He hasn't even gotten to a stage where he is doing any activity yet, like biking or working out. So we're hoping over the next two days he'll at least progress to that stage," coach Mike Johnston told the Penguins website. Defenseman Derrick Pouliot was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Saturday; the 21-year-old has one goal and two assists in eight games with Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won two of their past three games after carrying a four-game losing streak into the All-Star break. Pittsburgh has won five straight games against Nashville since the 2010-11 season.

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