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Penguins juggle lines looking for some extra punch

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will rearrange their top three lines when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Monday at Consol Energy Center in an attempt to spark their struggling offense.

After losing four of their past five games, and scoring one goal in each of those losses, Pittsburgh replaced Pascal Dupuis with Beau Bennett on its top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Dupuis will move to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, while Jussi Jokinen will play on the third line.

"There will be a little mix and matching. Try to get a little spark somewhere," said Dupuis, who has scored three points in his past 12 games. "They [Crosby and Malkin] are both so talented and you have to read off them a little bit. At the same time, I've been playing with Sid for a little while, so I need to make a little bit of an adjustment with Geno [Malkin]."

Malkin has eight assists in his past eight games, but hasn't scored a goal since the Penguins' 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 17 -- a span of 13 games -- and has three goals on the season.

After scoring 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in his first 15 games, Crosby's production has also slowed. He has two points in the Penguins' past five games, while St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen has overtaken him for the League lead in points (26).

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he thinks it is only a matter of time until Crosby regains his scoring touch and expects him to play at his highest level against Anaheim.

"When Sidney's on fire, it doesn't matter," Boudreau said. "You can put a brick wall out there and he's going to go through it and he's going to score."

Bennett, who has two assists and no points since returning from a lower-body injury on Nov. 9, said he will play within himself, and hopes that will get both Crosby and him jumpstarted.

"First and foremost, we just have to play the right way and get a win," Bennett said. "As far as individually, you don't want to change much, you just want to play your game. The rest will take care of itself."

In addition to surrendering Crosby's point lead, Pittsburgh has allowed the Washington Capitals to overtake them in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins can regain the division lead with a win against Anaheim.

Here are the expected lineups for the Penguins and Ducks:


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyBeau Bennett

Pascal DupuisEvgeni MalkinJames Neal

Jussi JokinenBrandon SutterBrian Gibbons

Tanner GlassJoe VitaleCraig Adams

Olli MaattaKris Letang

Brooks OrpikPaul Martin

Matt NiskanenRobert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Zach Sill, Deryk Engelland

Injured: Chuck Kobasew (lower body), Rob Scuderi (ankle), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)


Dustin PennerRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Emerson EtemNick BoninoTeemu Selanne

Patrick MaroonKyle PalmieriRickard Rakell

Devante Smith-PellyAndrew CoglianoDaniel Winnik

Francois BeaucheminMark Fistric

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Bryan AllenHampus Lindholm

Viktor Fasth

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Luca Sbisa

Injured: Matthew Perreault (illness), Jakob Silfverberg (hand), Saku Koivu (head), Matt Beleskey (thumb), Sheldon Souray (wrist)

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