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Penguins and Devils begin home-and-home

by Dan Rosen

PENGUINS (8-3-0) at DEVILS (6-1-3)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 7-3-0; New Jersey 6-1-3

Season series: This is the second of four meetings and first of a weekend home-and-home between the Atlantic Division opponents. The Penguins defeated the Devils 5-1 last Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Big story: First place in the Atlantic is on the line -- the Penguins, winners of five straight, have 16 points; the Devils have 15 thanks to their three-game winning streak since the loss in Pittsburgh a week ago.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Everything looks good now, including a power play that has converted six times in the past three games after scoring the same amount in the first eight. Pittsburgh was 3-for-4 on the power play in its 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

"I think right now we're confident in the way we're playing and believe in the way we're playing," Sidney Crosby said.

The Penguins have scored 23 goals during their five-game winning streak. They had five different goal scorers in their win over Washington. Crosby was one of them, and he is riding a six-game point streak in which he has two goals and 10 assists. Chris Kunitz had a pair of assists, giving him five goals and five assists in the past four games.

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his third straight start. He has won in each of his past three starts and has allowed five goals on 75 shots over the span.

Some bad news: Defenseman Kris Letang will miss his second straight game and is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Letang did not travel with the team to New Jersey.

Devils: It's possible the loss to Pittsburgh last weekend was the wakeup call they needed because they have played well since. The Devils own wins over the New York Islanders (3-0), New York Rangers (3-1) and Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2) since getting blitzed in Pittsburgh.

"We know what they're about," coach Pete DeBoer said of the Penguins. "They gave us a pretty good lesson in Pittsburgh last week, so we've got to take a deep breath here and try to refuel and get ready because it's four big points, a division rival, and we need to play better than the last time we played against them."

New Jersey's special teams have been extra special of late. The Devils haven't yielded a power-play goal in the past four games (19-for-19) and have scored at least one power-play goal in each of the past three (4-for-11), including a pair of 5-on-3 goals in their win against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Martin Brodeur is expected to play in his 1,200th NHL game Saturday.

Who's hot: Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin has at least two points in four of his past five games, and James Neal is riding a three-game point-scoring streak. ... The Devils' second line of Adam Henrique, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias has been excellent since it was put together Tuesday against the Rangers. Elias has three points in each of the past two games; Clarkson has four points; Henrique has goals in each of the games.

Injury report: Pittsburgh will play without Letang and Matt Niskanen (lower body). ... Devils forward Dainius Zubrus (upper body) could miss his second straight game.

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