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Red Wings renew rivalry with Penguins

by Brian Hunter
PENGUINS (42-24-6) at RED WINGS (35-23-13)

Last 10: Pittsburgh 6-2-2; Detroit 7-2-1

Season series:
This is the second and final regular-season meeting between the two teams that have met to decide the Stanley Cup Final each of the past two seasons. The Penguins prevailed 2-1 on Jan. 31 as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin beat Jimmy Howard in the shootout. Crosby also scored in regulation and was answered by Dan Cleary of the Red Wings. Howard lost despite making 46 saves, while winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots.

Big story: Pittsburgh leads New Jersey by two points for the Atlantic Division lead. Detroit leads Calgary by two points for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Each team wants this game for its own reasons, and both sides will be pumped up to play in front of an energetic crowd at Joe Louis Arena and before a national television audience watching on Versus in the U.S. and TSN in Canada.

Team Scope:

New Jersey will once again hold two games in hand over Pittsburgh after Monday night, which makes this one a little more important for the Penguins. They will be looking to atone for picking up just a single point Saturday afternoon against the visiting Hurricanes, who tied the game late in regulation on a Joni Pitkanen goal and then dealt the Penguins a 3-2 defeat when Jamie McBain scored with 0.9 seconds left in overtime.

"We're trying to be the best team that we can be," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We're trying to be an elite team. We have areas that we need to work on. We address those and talk about those, and we get challenges against Detroit and going into Washington on Wednesday."

Red Wings: Scrambling to keep pro sports' longest-active streak of 18 straight playoff appearances alive, Detroit rallied from an early two-goal deficit in Vancouver on Saturday by scoring three goals in the second period, then yielded Daniel Sedin's tying goal early in the third. Henrik Zetterberg ensured the Wings would get two points when he pulled a buzzer-beater of his own and scored with 0.2 seconds left in overtime for a 4-3 victory.

"It's nice when it goes our way," Zetterberg said. "I didn't know how much time was left, but it was enough. We needed those two points. We need to show up and play hard every game."

Who's hot:
Crosby has 15 goals and 16 assists in the last 22 games for Pittsburgh. The recently-acquired Alexei Ponikarovsky has a goal and three assists in his last four games.

Zetterberg has eight goals and 15 assists in the last 20 games for Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk has three goals and an assist during a four-game points streak. Valtteri Filppula had a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating against Vancouver.

Injury report:
Malkin has been nursing an injury to his right foot but played in the Penguins' game Saturday and scored a goal. … Cleary is day-to-day with a groin injury while fellow Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves is day-to-day with a head injury. Forward Kirk Maltby will miss at least the rest of the regular season due to shoulder surgery.

Stat pack:
Jordan Staal scored his first power-play goal in 123 games against Carolina. It was the 20th of the season overall for the Pittsburgh center. … Todd Bertuzzi and Datsyuk scored five seconds apart in Saturday's game, the two quickest goals ever scored by Detroit and given up by Vancouver.

Puck drop:
Fleury made the most memorable save in recent postseason history when he stopped Nicklas Lidstrom in the final seconds of Game 7 to seal the Penguins’ first championship in 17 years. This will be his first game back at the Joe.

"I think we have had our share of good battles at that rink and a nice celebration at the end (last season)," Fleury said. "I'm sure it will feel great to get back out there. They are always intense games with these guys. We have had good games against them in the past and are looking forward to facing them again."

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