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Penguins see multiple options with Goc, Stempniak

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Forwards Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak joined their new Pittsburgh Penguins teammates at SAP Center and likely will be in the lineup Thursday against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Goc and Stempniak, acquired Wednesday at the NHL Trade Deadline, arrived after the Penguins were off the ice following an optional morning skate. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said his lines and lineup would be "game-time" decisions, but the Penguins have 13 forwards on their active roster and one of them, Joe Vitale, stayed late on the ice, indicating he likely will be a healthy scratch.

When asked what he would tell his two new players, Bylsma sounded as if Goc, acquired from the Florida Panthers, and Stempniak, who arrived in a trade with the Calgary Flames, would make their Penguins debut against San Jose.

"I think given the fact they're both landing about 11:30 [a.m. PT] and don't have a day of practice, don't have a morning skate, don't have too much time with us, I don't think you can worry too much about systems and where you need to go, and worrying about making mistakes, being in the wrong spots," Bylsma said. "We're going to have to go out and play [Thursday]. I don't want to say we're going to learn as we go along, but. ... They're going to be put in positions where they're comfortable playing and adding, and they'll do that."

Goc said he's ready to play for his new team.

"I want to play," he said shortly after shaking hands with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "I'm looking forward to playing with guys like him. A lot of good players here. Obviously it's a top team. In Florida we weren't talking about the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. That changed here pretty quickly for me. I'm excited to be here and looking forward to [Thursday]."

Bylsma said he's still trying to decide how best to use Goc and Stempniak.

"I think the versatility is one thing you look at with adding both Lee and Marcel to our lineup," he said. "Marcel's good in the faceoff dot. We're going to need him there [and] we're going to use him there. We're also going to see him play some wing. Lee is a guy who you could see him play in a third line. You could see him play in a top six. It also allows us to think about moving some other players around in different line combinations.

"We'll have different options. It may allow you to see [Evgeni] Malkin with Crosby and [Chris] Kunitz a little bit more than we have used it this year, adding a centerman in Marcel, and you see [Brandon] Sutter move up to a second-line center when that happens. So we have different options and versatility with the addition of these two guys, and I think you'll see that in the next 10 games."

Penguins backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff will make his first start since Jan. 30, when he allowed one goal on 31 shots in a 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. He's 9-2-1 with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 12 games.

The Penguins have gone 0-8-2 in their past 10 games at San Jose and haven't won a road game against the Sharks since Oct. 22, 1997. The Sharks, however, talked more about their 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 5 than their success at home against the Penguins.

"They might be the most dangerous counterattack team in the League," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "When you make a mistake they're very quick to jump on it. They have the skill and the speed and the size up front to make you pay for it. They exposed us. We weren't very good, especially in the second period, in their building."

Here are the projected lineups for San Jose and Pittsburgh:


Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Raffi Torres - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels

Marty Havlat - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers

Scott Hannan - Justin Braun

Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Matt Tennyson, Mike Brown, Tyler Kennedy

Injured: Brad Stuart (upper body), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery)


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Brian Gibbons

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Taylor Pyatt - Brandon Sutter - Lee Stempniak

Tanner Glass - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen

Olli Maatta - Brooks Orpik

Robert Bortuzzo - Simon Despres

Jeff Zatkoff

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Joe Vitale, Deryk Engelland

Injured: Chris Conner (hand), Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis), Paul Martin (broken hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), Kris Letang (stroke)

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