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Pens hope to continue road success in Winnipeg

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Pittsburgh Penguins return to life on the road, a place of comfort for them this season, when they meet the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Friday.

The Penguins are 6-2-0 on the road this season, and land in Winnipeg 7-3-0 in their past 10 games. The Pittsburgh power play has scored in each of the club's past six games and is clicking at a 37.5-percent rate in that span (9-for-24).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma attributes his team’s road success to a hard-nosed approach away from home.

"We've been able to do that on the road with more effect than maybe at home," Bylsma said. "We've been able stay away from the perception of our team, which is high-skill and making great plays, to playing a hard game, playing in the offensive zone, being a smothering team. We've been able to do that in some tough places, and that's maybe been [the reason for] our success on the road."

One of the Penguins' road losses came in Winnipeg on Jan. 25, when the Penguins took a 2-0 lead in the first period but allowed the Jets to score the next four goals en route to a 4-2 loss. The Jets have taken two of the teams' three meetings at MTS Centre.

"This is one of the tougher buildings to play in, so we'll be tested with that team," Bylsma said.

Right wing Beau Bennett will make his NHL debut after the Penguins recalled him from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Thursday. Bennett had seven goals and 18 assists in 35 AHL games.

Bennett replaces Eric Tangradi, whom Pittsburgh traded to Winnipeg prior to their 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Bylsma also said he will keep Matt Cooke on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

On the blue line, Brooks Orpik will play his 600th NHL game, all with the Penguins, and become the second defenseman in team history to reach that mark.

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net for the Penguins.

Here is the possible lineup the Penguins will use Friday:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy

Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin

Matt Niskanen - Kris Letang

Deryk Engelland - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tomas Vokoun

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Zach Boychuk, Dustin Jeffrey, Dylan Reese

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