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Penguins-Sharks meet in battle of the elite @NHL

PENGUINS (12-4-0) at SHARKS (11-4-2)

Last 10: Penguins 7-3-0; Sharks 8-1-1

Season series:
This is the only meeting between these teams. In 2008-09 they met twice, and each team earned a one-goal home victory. Joe Pavelski of the Sharks scored a series-high 2 goals, and Milan Michalek added 2 assists. Ruslan Fedotenko and Bill Thomas scored goals for the Penguins.

Big story:
This is the heavyweight matchup of the night, even if the Penguins are missing Evgeni Malkin and the Sharks Devin Setoguchi. Both teams are in the top three in League record, and each are in the top 10 in goals per game and fewest goals against per game.

Team scope:

Penguins: This is the third game in a four-game road trip for Pittsburgh, which previously defeated Anaheim 4-3 on Tuesday and lost 5-2 to Los Angeles on Thursday.

The Penguins have shown no aversion to playing on the road this year. Pittsburgh tied a team record with seven consecutive road victories (first established March 14-April 9, 1993) when it defeated Anaheim 4-3 on Tuesday. Earlier in the season Pittsburgh completed a sweep of a four-game, seven-day road trip in mid-October with victories at Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa and Carolina. The Penguins are now 7-1-0 away from Mellon Arena.

Center Evgeni Malkin has not resumed practicing since he was ruled out for at least two weeks by head coach Dan Bylsma last Thursday. Malkin, whose right shoulder is strained, continues treatment that includes detailed stretching and light cardio.

"He's progressing in rehab, and the important part is rest," Bylsma told the Tribune Review. "Even skating right now provides just enough of an irritation that it would take away from the rest he needs. But he's moving in the right direction."

This is the first game in a three-game homestand for San Jose, which recently completed a three-game road trip against Carolina, Columbus and Detroit. A 2-1 shootout loss against the Red Wings on Thursday snapped San Jose’s win streak at six games.

"We fought hard for the one point, and we got five out of six on the road," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We would have taken that before the road trip started."

Thursday's loss at Detroit featured the first NHL goal for 20-year-old center Logan couture, the No. 9 pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

"I was shooting far side and I'm not even sure where it went in," he told the Contra Costa Times. "As soon as I saw the red light go on … I couldn't describe the feeling."

Who's hot:
For the Penguins, Pascal Dupuis has 2 goals in his last three games, defenseman Alex Goligoski has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 games, and defenseman Brooks Orpik has 5 assists in his last five games.

For the Sharks, Patrick Marleau has 6 goals and 10 assists in his last 10 games, Ryane Clowe has a goal and 4 assists in his last four games, Dany Heatley has 2 goals and an assist in his last four games, and Joe Thornton has a goal and 3 assists in his last three games.

Injury report:
For the Penguins, defenseman Sergei Gonchar (wrist) and center Maxime Talbot (shoulder) are on injured reserve, and center Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is day-to-day. For the Sharks, centers Joe Pavelski (lower-body) and Torrey Mitchell (leg) and defenseman Rob Blake (upper-body) are on injured reserve, and right wing Devin Setoguchi (lower-body) and forward Ryan Vesce (lower-body) are day-to-day.

Stat pack: The 11 wins posted by the Penguins in the month of October allowed them to tie an NHL record for most victories in the season’s opening month. The previous teams to accomplish this feat were the 1982-83 New York Islanders, 1990-91 New York Rangers and the 2001-02 and 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings. The Penguins’ 11 wins also set a franchise record for most wins in the month of October.

Puck drop:
If not for the amazing ascent of the Colorado Avalanche, this would be a matchup of the best records in the East and West. With this much talent, the style of the game could be anything from run and gun to tight checking to something in between, so it will be interesting to see which squad dictates the pace of the game.

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