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Pens aim to continue successful trip in Edmonton

by Brian Compton
PENGUINS (29-18-1) at OILERS (16-24-5)

Last 10: Pittsburgh 3-7-0; Edmonton 1-8-1.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on March 25, 2009, when Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 31 shots he faced in the Pens' 2-0 win over the Flames at Mellon Arena.

Big Story: This is Game 4 of a five-game road trip for the Penguins, and it's provided somewhat of a wake-up call for the defending Stanley Cup champs. Pittsburgh has earned four of a possible six points thus far on the trip and will certainly be looking for more against Edmonton, which has struggled mightily all season.

Team Scope:

Penguins: In a rare visit to Calgary, Sidney Crosby scored his 30th goal of the season and Fleury made 37 saves as the Pens earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory against the Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome. It was a nice way to rebound after Pittsburgh dropped a 4-3 decision at Minnesota on Monday night.

Afterwards, Crosby gave Fleury all the credit.

"He's always really strong for us, but tonight I think he stepped up even more," the Pens' captain said. "He made great saves throughout the night. It was nice to get rewarded for really working hard. Our penalty kill did a really good job, 'Flower' did a really good job, and we really had to stick with that one all the way through."

Oilers: Very little has gone right for Edmonton this season, and there doesn't appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Less than 24 hours after suffering a 5-3 loss to Nashville -- the team's fifth straight defeat -- the Oilers learned that No. 1 goalie Nikolai Khabibulin would be undergoing back surgery. He's likely to miss the rest of the season.

"We have been actually responding with our kids, anyway," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "Clearly, he wasn't capable of even coming to the rink and participating in any fashion. It just became official."

Who's Hot: Crosby has scored in four straight games, tallying six times during that span. He is just one goal behind Patrick Marleau for the League lead.

Injury Report: Pens backup goalie Brent Johnson participated in the morning skate, but sat out Wednesday's game for undisclosed reasons. His status for Thursday is unknown. Brooks Orpik also did not play due to an undisclosed injury. … Besides Khabibulin, the Oilers are also missing Lubomir Visnovsky (ankle, day-to-day), Marc Pouliot (sports hernia, day-to-day), Ales Hemsky (shoulder, out for season) and Mike Comrie (mononucleosis, out indefinitely).

Stat Pack: Despite all of its firepower up front, Pittsburgh entered Wednesday's action with the 29th-ranked power play. It was able to convert against the Flames, however, when Bill Guerin tipped in Alex Goligoski's shot from the blue line during the second period.

Puck Drop: "We've had our ups and downs the last two years, and you always think it'll get better. This is just not going the way we want it to go." -- Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert
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