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Perfect on home ice, Blues play host to Penguins

by Brian Hunter
PENGUINS (5-3-0) at BLUES (3-1-2)


Season Series:
This is the only meeting on the 2010-11 schedule between these teams. St. Louis will be looking to get payback for last season's lone matchup, in which Pittsburgh got a goal and an assist from Matt Cooke and 20 saves out of Marc-Andre Fleury in a 5-1 win on home ice.

Big Story: The Penguins are right where most expected them to be, tied for first place in the Atlantic Division standings. But they appear to have a challenge on their hands Saturday in the Blues, who are 3-0-0 on home ice after defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Friday. Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots and could be in line to start the second half of the back-to-back set as well against the team he sent packing from the postseason last spring while playing for the Canadiens.

Team Scope:

Penguins: It's the second stop on a three-game road swing for Pittsburgh, which rallied to take the opener in Nashville, 4-3 in overtime on Thursday. Sidney Crosby scored twice and Kris Letang netted the winner on a power play with 1:11 left in the extra period, but the game may have been most important to Fleury, who entered 0-3 in comparison to backup Brent Johnson's 4-0 record, 1.49 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. Fleury stopped 21 shots, with a few coming on breakaways or point-blank chances by the Predators.

"It felt good to make some saves," Fleury said. "I made some key saves in the game and that's a good feeling. It's a good feeling to get the win."

Blues: David Perron scored twice, but it was defenseman Roman Polak netting just his sixth goal in 178 NHL games that snapped a tie midway through the third period and propelled St. Louis to a 4-2 win over Chicago. Patrik Berglund capped the scoring with a late power-play goal as the Blues won in the 271st all-time meeting between the clubs.

"That's always been a question with us is closing out teams, closing out games," forward T.J. Oshie said. "That killer instinct that I think we have here at home definitely needs to come on the road with us. It's huge. The great teams put away teams in the third period. We've been seeing that lately at home."

Who's Hot: Crosby has 5 goals in the Penguins' last three games. He has 6 goals and 4 assists during a five-game points streak. Evgeni Malkin has 2 goals and 5 assists during a five-game points streak. Letang has 2 goals and 4 assists during a three-game points streak.

Perron leads the Blues with 4 goals, all of them coming in the last two games. Oshie (1-6-7) leads the team in points and has at least one in five-straight games. Berglund has a goal in three of the last four games.

Injury Report:
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik hasn't played since Oct. 9 due to a groin injury but could return to the lineup Saturday. Fellow blueliner Zbynek Michalek remains out with a shoulder injury. Forwards Jordan Staal (foot) and Arron Asham (shoulder) are on injured reserve. … St. Louis forward Cam Janssen (concussion) passed several medical tests Wednesday and could be in line to return next week.

Stat Pack:
At least one Penguins defenseman has factored in on 22 of their 27 goals this season (81.5 percent, accounting for 6 goals and 21 assists. … The Blues are tops in the NHL when it comes to shots per game (36.3) and they're second in fewest shots allowed (24.8), trailing only the Maple Leafs (24.5).

Puck Drop: It's hard to develop a rivalry when you have teams that typically only see each other once per season, but if Halak gets the start it'll be a great storyline. He turned aside 37 of 39 shots the last time he faced Pittsburgh, a 5-2 Montreal win in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

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