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Penguins at Maple Leafs preview

Toronto seeks to avoid fifth loss in row; Pittsburgh eyes fourth consecutive victory

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

PENGUINS (39-25-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (39-22-7)



The Game

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to avoid a season-high fifth-straight loss when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

The Maple Leafs, who trail the Boston Bruins by nine points for second place in the Atlantic Division with Boston holding two games in hand, are 0-2-2 in their past four games and have not lost five in a row since Feb. 23-March 3, 2017 (0-2-3).

With a victory, Toronto would set a record with its 10th consecutive home win; the Maple Leafs mark is nine straight home victories, set from Nov. 11-Dec. 26, 1953 and tied from March 6-April 7, 2007.

Center Auston Matthews will miss his sixth straight game with a shoulder injury.

Goaltender Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins, who seek their fourth straight win following a three-game losing streak (0-3-0). Pittsburgh, 14-4-1 in its past 19 games, trails the Washington Capitals by one point for first place in the Metropolitan Division.


Players to watch

Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who reached 1,100 points in the NHL with three assists in a 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, has 37 points (eight goals, 29 assists) in his past 26 games.

Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games.


They said it

"They still have a good team [without Auston Matthews]. … It's going to be a big test for us, they haven't played in a few days and we expect a big push out of their team." -- Penguins forward Derick Brassard

"We've had a big break here, so we should be fresh and ready to go … being ready right from the start, making sure that our legs are going, I think the rust will shake off pretty quick." -- Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau on having five days between games


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Carl Hagelin -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Riley Sheahan -- Derick Brassard -- Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Josh Jooris -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Chad Ruhwedel

Jamie Oleksiak -- Justin Schultz

Tristan Jarry

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Matt Hunwick

Injured: Bryan Rust (concussion), Zach Aston-Reese (upper body), Dominik Simon (lower body), Matt Murray (concussion)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- William Nylander -- Mitchell Marner

Patrick Marleau -- Nazem Kadri -- Leo Komarov

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Connor Brown

Josh Leivo -- Tomas Plekanec -- Kasperi Kapanen

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Travis Dermott -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Matt Martin, Dominic Moore, Connor Carrick

Injured: Auston Matthews (shoulder)


Status report

Simon remains week to week, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. … There is no timetable for Matthews to return to the lineup. Toronto is 1-2-2 since his injury against the New York Islanders on Feb 22.


Stat pack

Malkin has eight points (two goals, six assists) in a four-game point streak. … Kadri has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his past 10 games.

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