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Penguins-Bruins Preview @NHLdotcom

A line adjustment helped spark Sidney Crosby. A matchup with the Boston Bruins may give him a chance to build some momentum.

Coming off his best game of the season, Crosby leads the Penguins into Boston on Monday night for the Bruins' home opener.

Crosby had four assists and did not find the back of the net in his first five games. But on Saturday night, the 21-year-old center had his 100th career NHL goal and his 200th assist to surpass the 300-point plateau as Pittsburgh (3-2-1) beat Toronto 4-1.

"(Crosby) is the best player in the league," said Crosby linemate Pascal Dupuis, who also scored. "It's always good to play with a guy like that."

On a line with fellow young star Evgeni Malkin for the first time in an entire game this season, Crosby had a goal and three assists to give him 100 goals and 202 assists for 302 points in 219 games.

"I don't expect four-point nights, but I definitely wanted to score," he said. "I felt like I was doing some good things, but the puck just wasn't going in."

Malkin assisted on all four Penguins goals to give him 201 points in 166 NHL games.

After a 4-3 loss to Washington on Thursday night, and Crosby and Malkin having posted only 10 combined points in five games, Penguins coach Michel Therrien put the two centers together on a line. It is a move usually reserved for desperate situations.

It's uncertain if Therrien will go with the same alignment Monday. Regardless of what line they've played on, Crosby and Malkin haven't had much trouble producing against Boston (2-1-1).

Crosby has three goals and seven assists in his last four games versus the Bruins - all Penguins wins. Malkin, meanwhile, has nine goals and one assist in eight games against them.

They'll be facing a Boston team that has struggled on defense, allowing four goals in each of its first three games before a 4-2 win at Ottawa on Saturday night.

Before the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien stressed the importance of playing 60 minutes and his team was finally able to keep an offense in check.

Manny Fernandez made 21 saves for Boston, and faced only 12 shots in the first 40 minutes. He has been splitting time in net with Tim Thomas.

"The team now realizes that they have to play a strong game when I'm back there," Fernandez said. "They want to play good defensively and they want to help me out as much as they can, so I can't say it's good or bad to only get 12 shots. I have to be focused for those 12 shots, but I wouldn't rather have 36 shots, though."

The Bruins went 2-1-1 against the Penguins last season, holding them to a total of two goals en route to winning the final two contests.

Boston is 6-1-1 at home against Pittsburgh since the start of the 2004-05 season. The Bruins, who have won their last two home openers, went 21-16-4 at TD Banknorth Garden last season.

EA SPORTS NHL09 Game Predictions
Three Stars
e. MAlkin
c - pit

g: 3 | A: 1
j. staal
c - pit

g: 1 | a: 1
s crosby
c - pit

g: 0 | A: 2


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