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game preview

Penguins at Lightning preview

Pittsburgh goes for fourth straight victory; Tampa Bay tries for fifth consecutive win at home

by Corey Long / Correspondent

PENGUINS (5-2-1) at LIGHTNING (6-1-1)



The Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins come to Amalie Arena for the second time in nine days to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist, and Alex Killorn had four assists in the Lightning's 5-4 win against the Penguins on Oct. 12. Pittsburgh goaltender Antti Niemi will start for the first time since allowing all five goals in the loss.

The Penguins are playing the second half of a back-to-back after rallying to defeat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Friday for their third straight win. Goals by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby helped Pittsburgh rally from a two-goal deficit.

The Lightning are home after going 2-0-1 on a three-game road trip. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 43 saves in a 2-0 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scored his first two NHL goals.


Players to watch

Malkin has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past two games. He has 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists) in 35 regular-season games against the Lightning.

Forward Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and has at last one point in each of Tampa Bay's first eight games. The Lightning record is 11 games by Martin St. Louis in 2009-10.


They said it

"It's another challenge. We have to find a way to have success in those back-to-back games. We've done it in the past, we're capable. A lot of it is mind over matter. For me when you play back-to-back games it's more about will than it is about skill. It's playing a smart, efficient game and making sure you don't beat yourself." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan after the win at Florida

"The big thing I like is we're improving each game. Obviously it's nice to get the wins, but you can see that some smaller parts of our game defensively, limiting scoring chances, has really improved as the season has gone on in the short year. It's always nice to see those little areas improving and getting better as the year goes on." -- Lightning forward Ryan Callahan


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby - Conor Sheary

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin -- Greg McKegg -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Carter Rowney -- Ryan Reaves

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Chad Ruhwedel

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Antti Niemi

Matt Murray

Scratched: Josh Archibald, Scott Wilson, Zach Trotman

Injured: Matt Hunwick (concussion)


Lightning projected lineup

Vladislav Namestnikov -- Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Yanni Gourde

Alex Killorn -- Tyler Johnson

Chris Kunitz - Gabriel Dumont -- Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev -- Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn -- Dan Girardi

Andrej Sustr

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Scratched: J.T. Brown, Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Cedric Paquette (upper body)


Status report

The Penguins did not have a morning skate. ... Kucherov participated in the optional morning skate after taking a maintenance day Friday. Paquette didn't practice Friday or take part in the morning skate; he's listed as questionable.

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