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Pens visit Sabres on light night of action

by Adam Schwartz / NHL.com
The suddenly struggling Penguins, who have dropped five of their last seven games, travel to Buffalo (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, RDS, TSN2) in one of four games in the NHL Monday night.

In addition to the Pittsburgh-Buffalo game, the Thrashers play their first of two games in two nights when they host the Maple Leafs; the Ducks play the second game of their five-game road trip in Vancouver; and the Oilers look to improve their 4-5-3 home record against the Coyotes.

Here's what to watch:

* Pittsburgh, which has the two highest scoring players in the League in Evgeni Malkin (55 points) and Sidney Crosby (46 points), has no other player with 30 points. The Penguins, who have scored the fourth-most goals in the Eastern Conference with 106, has yielded four goals in four of their last six games.

* Sabres right wing Drew Stafford, who has 1 goals and 4 assists in eight career games against the Penguins, leads the team with a plus-6 rating. Stafford, who is on pace for a career-high 44 points, had his five-game point streak snapped Saturday in Buffalo's 4-3 overtime loss to Montreal.

* Toronto left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who is averaging just 15:29 of ice time, is tied for third on the team with 23 points. Ponikarovsky, who leads Leafs forwards with a plus-6 rating, has four points in his last two games.

* The Maple Leafs, who have yielded the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference with 108, have the second-best road power play in the conference with a 24 percent success rate. Toronto, which has allowed the first goal in 21 of their 32 games, is one of just six teams with six overtime losses. 

* Thrashers defenseman Garnet Exelby, known as a defensive defenseman, leads the team with 73 hits. Exelby, who averages 17:08 of ice time, hasn't played 17 minutes in his last five games.

* Atlanta center Bryan Little, who had 16 points in 48 games last season, has 24 points in just 32 games this season. Little, drafted No. 12 in 2006, is one of just two Thrashers with at least 12 goals and 12 assists.

* Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who is second on the team with 29 points, has just 3 points in his last nine games. Perry, who plays on a line with Ryan Getzlaf, played a season-high 21:58 on Friday in Anaheim's 3-2 shootout win against the Oilers.

* Anaheim, which won just one of its first six games this season, has a 17-7-3 record since then. The Ducks, who are in second place in the Pacific Division with 39 points, have a 5-7-1 record when outshooting their opponent, but have a 13-5 record when being outshot by their opponent.

* Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who missed seven games with a broken foot, leads Vancouver defensemen with 18 points. Bieksa, who missed 47 games with a calf laceration last season, is averaging more points per game at .75 than any other defenseman in the Northwest Division.

* Vancouver right wing Jannik Hansen, who has been moved to a line with the Henrik and Daniel Sedin, has 3 points in his last two games. Hansen, who leads Northwest Division rookies with 17 points, is averaging just 13:20 of ice time, but has played 14 minutes in two of his last three games.

* Coyotes center Steven Reinprecht, who scored the game-winning goal Saturday in Phoenix's 2-0 win against Columbus, has 4 points in his last five games. Reinprecht, who has 6 goals and 12 points in 27 career games against Edmonton, is one of just four Phoenix players that is older than 30.

 
* Phoenix, which is just three points behind Anaheim for second place in the Pacific Division, has won four of its last six games. The Coyotes, who have a 5-9-2 road record, are tied with the fewest goals scored in the division with 86. 

* Oilers left wing Erik Cole, who was traded to Edmonton from the Hurricanes for Joni Pitkanen, snapped a 15-game goalless drought Friday in the Oilers 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. Cole, who has had 50 points in each of his last three seasons, has just 9 points and is on pace for just 23 points this season.

* Edmonton, which is just four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, play eight of their next 10 games at Rexall Place. The Oilers, who are tied for the fewest goals scored in the conference with 81, have a 10-2-1 record when scoring first, but have a 4-12-2 record when allowing the first goal.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
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