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Penguins try to bounce back vs. Oilers

by John Kreiser
OILERS (23-37-9) at PENGUINS (39-22-8)

TV -- SNET-Edmonton (HD); FS-Pittsburgh (HD)

Last 10 -- Edmonton 4-5-1; Pittsburgh 3-3-4

Season series -- It's the only meeting of the season between these two teams, who haven't seen each other since the Penguins won 3-2 in Edmonton on Jan. 14, 2010. The Oilers haven't been to Pittsburgh since losing 5-4 at Mellon Arena on Nov. 6, 2008.

Big story -- One team is headed for the playoffs; the other is the front-runner for the No. 1 draft pick. But you'd never guess which was which, judging by their most recent efforts. The 30th-place Oilers were less than 30 seconds away from shutting out the Red Wings in Detroit on Friday before allowing the tying goal and losing 2-1 in overtime. Meanwhile, the Penguins came up with a clunker before their 200h consecutive home sellout on Saturday, losing 3-0 to Montreal in a game that saw them dominated for most of the afternoon.

Team Scope:

Oilers -- Coach Tom Renney couldn't have asked for more from his team in Detroit. Only a sixth-attacker goal by Nicklas Lidstrom on a shot that hit Oilers' forward Andrew Cogliano and deflected into the net prevented Edmonton from leaving Joe Louis Arena with a 1-0 win.

"I'm damn proud of our hockey club tonight," Renney said. "We stuck with our game-plan. We stuck to the strategy that we thought would help us win. Our penalty-killing was absolutely outstanding; our power-play was less than what we needed. We knew we could be challenged there, but that's okay."

"We fought hard and we tried to win a hockey game. We deserved a better fate, but Detroit is a good hockey club."

Penguins -- In contrast, the Pens couldn't find many nice things to say about their performance against the Canadiens. Pittsburgh allowed a goal to Montreal's Tomas Plekanec in the first minute of the game and showed little life the rest of the way.

The Penguins know they can't afford a repeat performance, even against the team with the fewest points in the NHL.

"We have to come [Sunday] more focused, more prepared and ready to make a play when the puck is on your stick," forward Matt Cooke said.

Who's hot -- Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk has a 2-1-1 record in his past four starts, stopping 124 of 132 shots for a.940 save percentage. He made 42 saves in the OT loss at Detroit.

Injury report -- Both sides are missing a lot of key pieces. Edmonton is without its top three scorers -- Taylor Hall (high ankle sprain), Alex Hemsky (shoulder) and Sam Gagner (hand surgery) -- as well as its top defenseman, Ryan Whitney (ankle). All are out for the season. Theo Peckham, who is back home in Edmonton, is day-to-day with a concussion. Fellow defenseman Taylor Chorney is week-to-week with a knee problem. … The Penguins are still without Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (season-ending knee surgery). Forwards Arron Asham, Nick Johnson and Eric Tangradi are all out with concussions. Center Mike Comrie is on IR with a hip injury, while Brooks Orpik is still out with a broken hand.

Stat pack -- The Oilers' top three scorers, Hemsky, Hall and Gagner, all have 42 points. … Though he hasn't played for two months, Crosby's 66 points are still 20 more than the Pens' next-highest scorer, defenseman Kris Letang. … The teams have met 64 times since Edmonton joined the NHL in 1979, but the Oilers have never had a shutout. In fact, the only shutout by either team was a 1-0 victory by Pittsburgh in Edmonton on Jan. 19, 2002.

Puck drop -- Saturday's game marked the Penguins 200th consecutive sellout, including regular-season and playoff games. The first 164 came at Mellon Arena, with the last 36 at the new Consol Energy Center. Pittsburgh is 123-58-19 in that span.

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