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Penguins-Bruins Preview @NHL
Penguins-Bruins Preview

GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (3-5-5) at Boston Bruins (6-5-4).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Sidney Crosby was not overly excited about his first two-goal game in the NHL.

The rookie phenom will try to follow up that performance and help the Pittsburgh Penguins win a third straight game as they visit TD Banknorth Garden to face the Boston Bruins.

Crosby had a goal and an assist in the first period and added a third-period goal to lead Pittsburgh to a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night. The 18-year-old center, accustomed to the spotlight when he played two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before becoming the top overall pick in the NHL draft, downplayed his performance.

"Maybe there will be some other firsts, but I don't look at a two-goal game too high up on the firsts list," said Crosby, who has at least one point in all but two games.

Penguins player-owner Mario Lemieux, the first overall pick in 1984, set up both of Crosby's goals. However, Lemieux, still one of the best players in the league at age 40, was impressed with his young linemate.

"Everything that he is doing now is quite amazing at his age," Lemieux said.

The Penguins are 2-0 on their current five-game road trip and have won three of four after losing their first nine games (0-4-5). Former Bruins defenseman Sergei Gonchar had an assist Thursday and has four goals and two assists on a four-game points streak.

Sebastien Caron has started the last four games for Pittsburgh and had 22 saves against the Islanders. Caron has stopped 76 of 84 shots in his last three games.

Boston, which has won the first two meetings of the season with Pittsburgh, rebounded from consecutive defeats by posting a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Sergei Samsonov had two assists and Hannu Toivonen made 15 of his 29 saves in the third period as the Bruins improved to 3-2-1 at home. Thursday's game was Boston's first without defenseman Brian Leetch, who will be out for a month after suffering a knee injury in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders.

"We've been through a fair amount of adversity from the get-go," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought our defensemen stepped up, made great decisions and were the key to our success tonight."

In addition to Leetch, center Alexei Zhamnov (shoulder) and starting goalie Andrew Raycroft (hamstring) are sidelined.

"Losing a guy like Leetch is going to affect us," Toivonen said. "But tonight was one of our best defensive efforts of the year."

The Bruins, who dressed seven rookies on Thursday, have picked up at least one point in their last seven games (3-0-4).

STANDINGS (through Nov. 4): Penguins - 11 points, 5th place, 6 PB, Atlantic Division. Bruins - 16 points, 3rd place, 5 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Lemieux, Gonchar, Zigmund Palffy and John LeClair, 5 goals; Crosby, 14 assists and 18 points; Gonchar and Brooks Orpik, 26 PIM. Bruins - Glen Murray, 8 goals; Joe Thornton, 16 assists and 20 points; Hal Gill, 23 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 4): Penguins - Power play: 22.1 percent (21 for 95), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 75.8 percent (69 for 91), 30th. Bruins - Power play: 16.8 percent (16 for 95), 19th. Penalty killing: 83.5 percent (81 for 97), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Caron (3-1-3, 0 SO, 3.40 GAA); Jocelyn Thibault (0-3-1, 0, 5.65). Bruins - Raycroft (3-4-2, 0, 3.35); Toivonen (3-1-2, 0, 3.18).

SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 22; Bruins, 6-3. At Boston, Dave Scatchard had two goals and the Bruins scored on four power plays in a 10-minute span of the second period. Crosby had two assists for the Penguins, who fell to 0-4-4, extending the worst start in franchise history.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 2-2-3 on the road; Bruins - 3-2-1 at home.

Associated Press

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