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Penguins continue trip by visiting Ducks

by Sean McCullen

PENGUINS (41-17-4) at DUCKS (43-14-6)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 5-3-2; Anaheim 5-4-1

Season series: This is the second and final game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks. Pittsburgh won 3-1 at Consol Energy Center on Nov. 18, when the teams combined for four goals over a 4:04 span in the third period.

Big story: Each team leads its conference, and both were active at the NHL Trade Deadline. The Penguins, who sit atop the Eastern Conference with 86 points, have already started integrating some new faces into their lineup. The Ducks, who lead the NHL with 92 points, will have to wait a while to see their latest acquisition in game action.

Forwards Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak played with the Penguins for the first time Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. Pittsburgh acquired Goc, who earned an assist in a 5-3 loss to San Jose, from the Florida Panthers and Stempniak from the Calgary Flames in exchange for draft picks at the deadline Wednesday.

Defenseman Stephane Robidas, whom the Ducks acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, practiced Thursday but likely won't be ready to play in a game with his new team until March 14 at the earliest. The 37-year-old has not played since he broke his leg Nov. 29.

"I'm feeling really good," Robidas told the Ducks website. "Actually, [Thursday] morning I was a little afraid because I traveled [in the] morning. Sometimes, with planes, my leg swells up. I didn't have that much time before practice to get all the exercise that I usually do, but I felt really good on the ice."

Team Scope:

Penguins: Pittsburgh's loss to San Jose dropped it to 1-2-1 since returning from the NHL break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Penguins have allowed 16 goals in the four games.

Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in road points with 41, but was held off the scoresheet in San Jose and was a career-worst minus-5.

"They got a big goal there on their penalty kill (when Patrick Marleau scored to tie the game at 2-2 early in the third period). And that was a big boost, I'm sure," Crosby said. "But then we got the lead back shortly after, and then when they tied it 3-3 they seemed to come pretty hard after that. I think the whole second half of the game we were on our heels a bit."

The Penguins, who are 18-13-2 on the road, conclude their five-game trip Monday against the Washington Capitals.

Ducks: Anaheim has earned points in its three games, all at home, since returning from the Olympic break. The Ducks' 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night followed a 1-0 win against the St. Louis Blues and a 5-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The addition of Robidas, who hopes to make his Ducks debut next Friday against the Colorado Avalanche, should bolster a defense corps that is allowing 2.36 goals per game, the sixth-best average in the League. Coach Bruce Boudreau is happy to have the veteran defenseman on his side after watching him battle forward Corey Perry the past few seasons.

"We know from experience that we hated playing against him," Boudreau said of Robidas, according to the Ducks website. "He would be in Perry's face all night long. He can be a real agitator as well as a real good player. It seems like a good fit come playoff time. He brings Stanley Cup experience."

The Ducks conclude their five-game homestand Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They hit the road for three straight beginning Wednesday against the Calgary Flames.

Who's hot: Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta scored twice against San Jose. He has four goals in his past five games. Forward Chris Kunitz has a goal in two straight games. … Perry has three goals and an assist in the Ducks' past four games.

Injury report: Pittsburgh defensemen Paul Martin (broken hand) and Kris Letang (stroke), forwards Beau Bennett (broken wrist/hand), Chris Conner (hand) and Pascal Dupuis (torn ACL) and goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are on injured reserve. Martin will miss several more weeks, and Bennett is more than a week from returning. Letang is out indefinitely, Conner is day-to-day and Dupuis (torn ACL) is out for the season. Vokoun, who has not played this season, returned to practice last week. … In addition to Robidas, Anaheim center Mathieu Perreault (arm) is on IR.

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