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Penguins vs. Stars Game Preview

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 2-4-0-4
Road: 4-1-1-9

WHEN: Nov. 3, 2010 - 8:30 pm   |   WHERE: American Airlines Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Dallas Stars
Home: 3-3-0-6

  Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars 
Steve Ott
F  -  #28
  2 Goals
  1 Assist
  3 Points
• Veteran alternate captain is coming off of a season which saw him score a career-best 22 goals and register his second-highest point total (36).
• In addition to being able to score, Ott is defensively responsible and is one of the league’s toughest customers.
• Has posted at least 135 penalty minutes in each of his five full seasons with the Stars.
Adam Burish
F  -  #16
  1 Goal
  0 Assists
  1 Point
• Physical, sandpaper-type forward won a Stanley Cup last season as a valuable grinding-line forward with the Chicago Blackhawks.
• Missed the first 65 games of last season with a serious knee injury before returning late in the season to help the Blackhawks’ championship run.
• The former 2002 ninth-round draft pick (282nd overall) spent four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, helping the Badgers win the 2006 National Championship.
Stephane Robidas
D  -  #3
  1 Goal 
  3 Assists
  4 Points
• The owner of one of the NHL’s hardest shots, he is coming off of a career year which saw him establish personal bests with 10 goals and 41 points.
• Is off to another strong start this season, as his plus-10 rating through his first nine games leads the NHL.
• Not only does he possess a canon for a shot, he also isn’t afraid to use it. Last season, his 199 shots ranked seventh among blueliners.
The Penguins will face a tough test on Wednesday night when they travel to the American Airlines Center in Dallas to take on the surprising Stars.

Although the Stars have struggled a bit recently, going just 2-4 over their past six contests, they began the year on a 4-0 run and sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 12 points prior to Tuesday’s games.

The strength for Dallas’ success has been a young, talented group of dynamic forwards led by 23-year-old James Neal, 25-year-old Swedish sniper Loui Eriksson and emerging 21-year-old Jamie Benn. That trio, which has combined for 11 goals and 24 points through the first 10 games (Benn has missed three games), spearheads a talented nucleus for the Stars moving forward. Last season, that trio combined for 78 goals and 167 points as each surpassed the 20-goal and 40-point plateaus.

Dallas’ offensive attack isn’t fueled by youth alone.

Veteran Brad Richards, the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner, is off to another hot start with 11 assists and 14 points. His point total ranks seventh overall while his 11 assists are tied for the league lead. Last season, Richards led the Stars with a career-high-tying 91 points (24G-67A).

Stars captain Brendan Morrow, one of the best two-way grinding forwards in the game, is off to a fast start with six goals through the first seven games. Morrow bounced back last season from a knee injury the previous campaign by scoring 20 goals and winning a gold medal with Sidney Crosby and Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

In goal, the Stars are transitioning from the Marty Turco era to Kari Lehtonen, who was acquired late last season from the Atlanta Thrashers. Lehtonen has given the Stars the consistent play between the pipes they lacked at times last season while starting nine of the team’s first 10 games.
  • West Coast road swings are never easy, but the Penguins have to be pleased to be beginning their trek in Dallas against the Stars, a team the Penguins have had plenty of success against over the years. Since 2003-04, the two teams have played five games against one another, with the Penguins emerging victorious on each occasion. During that stretch Pittsburgh has outscored Dallas by a 22-8 count. The Penguins’ 5-0 record includes a perfect 2-0 mark at American Airlines Center.
  • It’s probably not much of a surprise to hear that Penguins forward Sidney Crosby has enjoyed great success against Dallas. In three career games versus the Stars, Crosby has totaled four goals and seven points, including three points (2G-1A) in Pittsburgh’s 6-3 victory on Mar. 6 of last season at Mellon Arena.
  • How good was Brent Johnson during the opening month? We’ll let the statistics speak for themselves. Not only does Johnson rank second in the league in both goals-against average (1.16) and save percentage (.960), it’s how far he sits in front of the No. 3 guy on both lists that tells the story. Johnson’s 1.16 GAA is almost a half goal less than No. 3 Jaroslav Halak (1.71), while his .960 save percentage is .24 percentage points better than Jonathan Quick’s (.936).
  • Don’t look now but the Penguins’ penalty killing unit is on a bit of a roll. It now ranks 10th in the NHL with an 84.9 percent success rate. Over the course of the past five games, Pittsburgh has killed off 21 of its past 24 opposition power plays (87.5 percent). The Penguins also remain tied for the NHL lead with three shorthanded goals.
  • Dallas head coach Marc Crawford announced that Kari Lehtonen will start against the Penguins after taking his first night of the season off on Saturday. Lehtonen has strong career numbers against the Penguins, posting a 6-3-2 record in 11 appearances, although the Penguins did score six times in 34 shots against him on Mar. 6 of last season.


Brick Wall: The Penguins ranked among the league’s stingiest teams throughout the first month of the season, something due in no small part to the spectacular netminding of Brent Johnson. Pittsburgh is going to need more of that same effort on this road swing, which shouldn’t be a problem considering Johnson hasn’t surrendered a regulation goal over his past two starts.

Total Team Effort:
The best part about Saturday night’s 3-0 Penguins’ victory over Carolina? Yeah, the two points were huge. But more importantly, the way it was a total team effort was great to see heading into the back end of this road trip, especially with so many key players banged up right now. That’s the formula head coach Dan Bylsma wants to see his team execute moving forward.
C Jordan Staal, foot/broken right hand (up to 6 weeks)
D Zbynek Michalek, upper body (day-to-day)
D Alex Goligoski, undisclosed (day-to-day)
D Kris Letang, upper body (day-to-day)
F Evgeni Malkin, undisclosed (day-to-day)
Crosby (6) Morrow (6)
Crosby (9) Richards (11)
Crosby (15) Richards (14)
Engelland (28) Robidas (21)
Letang/Goligoski (+8) Robidas (+10)
Crosby (3) Richards (2)
Cooke (2)
Ott/Petersen (1)
Johnson (5-0-1) Lehtonen (5-4-0)
Johnson (1.16) Lehtonen (2.93)
Johnson (.960) Lehtonen (.908)

Pascal Dupuis - Despite all the injuries the past couple weeks, the Penguins continue to rank second in the Eastern Conference with 35 goals. One reason has been the way Pascal Dupuis has regained his scoring touch from last season. Dupuis, whose four goals lead all Penguins wingers, has three goals over his past three contests, including a pair of tallies on Saturday in Carolina.
Loui Eriksson - With five goals and nine points through the season’s first 10 games, it appears as though Loui Eriksson is poised for another big season following back-to-back campaigns of 36 and 29 goals, respectively. Eriksson, who scored against the Penguins on Mar. 6 of last season, is riding a three-game scoring streak (1G-2A).

Players Enjoy Spending Limited Down Time With Family       
Penguins Report: Malkin and Letang Skate         
Shero Finds Silver Lining In Staal's Extended Absence    
Curry, Thiessen Named Reebok/AHL Goaltenders Of The Month           

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Author: Jason Seidling

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