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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers at Penguins

The Oilers conclude their three-game road trip with a matinee clash with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers conclude their three-game road trip with a matinee clash with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet or listen live on the 630CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at PIT 11.01.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News, notes and updates from the Oilers dressing room, including Coach Tippett's praise of Draisaitl's defensive game.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

PITTSBURGH, PA - Connor McDavid versus Sidney Crosby.

Need I say more?

Saturday's Oilers matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins comes, of course, with all the hype surrounding two of the National Hockey League's biggest stars as they go head-to-head for the seventh time.

McDavid and Crosby may be the marquee matchup but there is ultimately one task at hand for the two sides.

"The main focus is on winning," said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett. 

"How does your team win? If you're not willing to play structured or play well as a team, you're probably not going to win games like this. Especially against a good team."

THE CROSBY AND MCDAVID SHOW

There is, however, no understating the entertainment value attached to the Crosby and McDavid Show. The two stars are well-aware of the elevated competition when facing one another and admitted as much on Friday.

"I think I get prepared knowing it's going to be a good challenge," Crosby said. 

"Knowing that you're playing against him and just knowing what he can do and the game he plays. You have to be aware and prepare accordingly."

Said McDavid: "Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin. They got some really special players over there and we got some good players on our side, as well. Generally, these have been entertaining games.

"Expect nothing different tomorrow."

Head-to-head, McDavid leads in point production, scoring three goals and seven assists in six contests against Crosby. 

The Penguins captain, however, has pulled ahead in the win category, going victorious against McDavid in all six of their meetings, compiling two goals and two assists.

"It's always easy for us to get up to play them," McDavid said. 

"It's always exciting."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Connor McDavid 2019.11.01

GAME RECOGNIZES GAMES

The adage is true: Game, indeed does, recognize game.

That was the case on Friday as both McDavid and Crosby offered their respect to one another.

"He's probably the guy that I followed the most growing in hockey," McDavid said.

The two virtuosos dominate the game differently and both know it. McDavid is recognized for his quickness, craftiness and acceleration.

Crosby, meanwhile, is one of hockey's best grinders, who can manifest offence from along the boards while wielding a high hockey IQ that factors into the equation when creating in transition.

"I think we're a little bit different style of players," said the Oilers Captain. "He's been so successful. If you can even take just a little piece of his game and add it, that would help."

Crosby was quick to note McDavid's Internet speed.

"He's a great playmaker," he said. 

"He can shoot the puck, he does everything well but I think his speed really allows him to create all those things."

Coach Tippett, alluding to McDavid and Crosby but also including Malkin and Draisaitl in the conversation, compared the Oilers vs. Penguins matchup and how it relates to the teams' talents.

"Our guys are younger than their guys but they're both building their resumes," he said. 

"When all is said and done, if they can have resumes like those two guys in Pittsburgh, with Cups and trophies and scoring titles, things like that, it would be great to see."

No. 97 and No. 87 may lead the headlines but Crosby noted Draisaitl, the NHL's leading scorer and third star of the month.

"McDavid, deservedly so, gets the attention he gets but I think everyone recognizes Draisaitl is a great player in his own right," he said. 

"All around, his game is really strong."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Leon Draisaitl 2019.11.01

LINEUP NOTES

Coach Tippett said he expects to see Riley Sheahan in Saturday's lineup despite taking a nasty hit from Pierre-Luc Dubois versus the Blue Jackets.

As an insurance measure, the Oilers recalled Colby Cave on Friday but Sheahan skated alongside Markus Granlund and Patrick Russell at practice.

Mike Smith is expected to start in goal.

The Penguins, meanwhile, get an offensive boost with the return of Evgeni Malkin, who was activated off the Injured Reserve on Friday.

Lines at Friday's Oilers practice appeared to be:

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian

Khaira - Nugent-Hopkins - Gagner

Neal - Haas - Chiasson

Granlund - Sheahan - P. Russell

Defence: 

Nurse - Bear

Klefbom - Persson

K. Russell - Benning

Goal:

Smith

Koskinen

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Dave Tippett 2019.11.01

PREVIEW

OILERS (9-4-1) vs PENGUINS (9-5-0)

TV: 11:00 AM MDT; Televised on Sportsnet

Head-to-Head:

This is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Penguins in the 2019-20 campaign. The Penguins will pay the Oilers a visit on Dec. 20 to wrap up the season series.

Last year, Edmonton went 0-1-1 versus the Pens, dropping a 6-5 overtime decision in their first tilt and a 3-1 loss in the second.

Draisaitl lit the lamp three times in the two affairs, while McDavid had one goal and two assists. For the Pens, Crosby (2G, 1 A), Patric Hornqvist (2G, 1A) and Matt Cullen (3A) all led the club in scoring versus the Oilers.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers enter PPG Paints Arena off a dominant performance in Columbus, one that saw the club score twice in the first and then twice more in the second for a 4-1 final.

Draisaitl notched a pair of markers and added an assist for three points, topping the National Hockey League in scoring with 25 points prior to Friday's NHL action. The German also has 12 goals on the season, tied with David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins for the goal-scoring lead. Draisaitl is riding a four-game point streak, tallying six goals and three assists over that span.

The Oilers are first in the Pacific Division with a 9-4-1 record and 19 points, and are fourth in the League overall. The club is 5-4-1 in their last 10 outings and 4-3-1 on the road this year.

Penguins team scope:

The Penguins devastated their Pennsylvania rival Philadelphia Flyers with a 7-1 score on Tuesday. Three players registered multi-point efforts including Sidney Crosby, who had one goal and two helpers.

Crosby tops all Penguins in points with 17 on the campaign while Jake Guentzel is the leading goal-scorer with seven. On the back end, Kris Letang has four goals and seven assists for 11 points.

The Pens employ the first Eastern Conference wild card position with 16 points and a 9-5-0 record. The club is 5-3-0 at PPG Paints Arena in '19-20, are 7-3-0 in their last ten and are currently riding a two-game winning streak.

By the Numbers:

McDavid's 394 points through his first 300 career NHL games ranked 2nd only to Sidney Crosby's 407. ... McDavid had been held without a point in just 78 games, ranking as the 8th-fewest in NHL history. ... Crosby had been held without a point in 77 games through his first 300 career games. ... McDavid and Crosby are two of seven skaters all-time to earn the Hart and Art Ross Trophy before playing their 300th career game. ... The Oilers are 1-6-1 in their last eight road contests versus the Pens, averaging 2.25 goals per game and 3.75 against.

Injury Report:

OILERS -  Adam Larsson (fibula) is on IR; Josh Archibald (foot fracture) is on IR; Joakim Nygard (ribs) is on IR.

PENGUINS - Justin Almeida (shoulder) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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