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Penguins-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Penguins-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (11-23-9) at Chicago Blackhawks (14-25-4).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost four straight games while struggling with goaltending.

The Chicago Blackhawks have lost 11 of their last 12 due to trouble scoring goals.

The two teams meet at the United Center hoping to get any sort of momentum.

The Penguins have allowed an NHL-worst 170 goals this season, including 12 in consecutive road losses. They had recalled goaltenders Dany Sabourin and Sebastien Caron from Wilkes-Barre of the AHL prior to Wednesday's game hoping for better goaltending, but it never showed in a 6-1 defeat Wednesday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sabourin yielded a goal 10 seconds into the game and allowed four goals in 14 shots before being pulled less than one minute into the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury finished the game and allowed the other two goals.

"When we go down by two goals so early in a game, mentally we're kind of fragile," coach Michel Therrien said.

The Penguins reassigned Sabourin to Wilkes-Barre one day after making his first start of the season.

Ryan Malone scored Pittsburgh's lone goal against the Blue Jackets, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games.

Penguins rookie center Sidney Crosby was held pointless for a second straight game, just the second time this season that has happened. He went pointless in three games from Nov. 27-Dec. 1 and has not scored a goal in four games.

Pittsburgh has lost nine of its last 10 road games but is 7-1-3 in its last 11 against Chicago.

The Blackhawks broke a 10-game losing streak Tuesday at Washington, but failed record back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 7-11 with a 5-2 loss Wednesday to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Chicago has just 14 goals in its last eight games, scoring more than two goals in just one of those games.

Radim Vrbata and Andy Hilbert scored for the Blackhawks, who had a season-low 14 shots in the game.

Craig Anderson is 0-6-0 since taking over for the injured Nikolai Khabibulin in goal with a 3.88 goals-against average and .835 save percentage.

The Blackhawks' penalty-killing unit and power-play team have been moving in different directions recently.

Chicago has killed off 32 of 33 penalties the last seven games and lead the league with a 97.0 efficiency mark since Dec. 30.

But the power-play unit has just one goal in its last six games, its worst stretch of the season. The Blackhawks did not have a man-advantage situation against the Flyers, the first time that has happened since Oct. 22, 1997.

STANDINGS: Penguins - 31 points, 5th place, 31 PB, Atlantic Division. Blackhawks - 32 points, 3rd place, 29 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Crosby, 21 goals, 48 points and 64 PIM; Zigmund Palffy, 29 assists. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 16 goals; Tyler Arnason, 21 assists and 31 points; Matthew Barnaby and Todd Simpson, 104 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Penguins - Power play: 17.2 percent (46 for 268), 15th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.9 percent (228 for 289), 29th. Blackhawks - Power play: 12.9 percent (31 for 240), 30th. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (271 for 317), 3rd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Fleury (5-10-3, 0 SO, 3.16 GAA); Caron (5-3-3, 0, 3.95). Blackhawks - Anderson (2-8-1, 0, 3.90); Adam Munro (1-0-0, 0, 2.90).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Penguins 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 29, 2003; Penguins 1-0. At Pittsburgh, Tomas Surovy scored the game's only goal and Caron made 31 saves for his only shutout of the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 5-12-4 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-11-1 at home.

Associated Press
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