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Pens-Canucks Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (6-1-0) vs. CANUCKS (5-3-0)
  WHEN: October 19, 2013 - 1:00 p.m.  |  WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, teams that haven't met since the 2011-12 season opener. The Penguins got goals in the shootout from Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin to walk away with a 4-3 win at Rogers Arena.

Big story:
The goaltending matchup had yet to be confirmed 24 hours prior to game time, but it's probable Roberto Luongo faces off against Marc-Andre Fleury in a battle of Canadian netminders with decorated resumes. Luongo won a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and led the Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final a year later. Fleury went to back-to-back Finals with the Penguins, beating the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of a 2009 rematch to win the Cup.

Team Scope:

Luongo could be in line for a day off over the weekend, but that seems more likely to come Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's started seven of the first eight games for Vancouver and is coming off his first shutout of the season and 63rd of his career, a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

The Canucks methodically built a lead for Luongo as Chris Higgins got them on the board in the first period, Brad Richardson added a shorthanded goal in the second and Ryan Stanton scored his first NHL goal in the third.

"There's no easy wins in the NHL," Luongo told The Vancouver Sun. "It doesn't matter what a team's record is, you've got to come to play if you want to win. We did that [Thursday]. We know we have a huge test coming up on Saturday so we're going to enjoy this one, but get back to work [Friday]."

Thursday's 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers was the sixth this season for Pittsburgh, twice as many as any other Metropolitan Division team. The Penguins kept their Pennsylvania rivals mired in the basement behind a 24-save effort from Fleury, who's 6-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

The Penguins carried a 2-1 lead into the third, but Sidney Crosby's season-opening point streak was on the line until he redirected a Pascal Dupuis shot with 2:32 remaining for his sixth goal of the season. He then assisted on Malkin's empty-netter.

"It's where you want to be," Fleury said of the fast start. "We're not thinking too far ahead, just getting two points every night and go from there."

Who's hot:
Higgins has goals in consecutive games for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin has one goal and three assists during a three-game point streak. … Crosby has six goals and eight assists for an NHL-leading 14 points. Malkin has three goals and four assists during a five-game point streak for the Penguins. Dupuis has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. Chris Kunitz has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report:
Vancouver is without forward Alexandre Burrows (foot). … Pittsburgh has been missing Letang (lower body) on defense as well as forwards Beau Bennett (lower body), James Neal (upper body) and Matt D'Agostini (lower body). Letang and D'Agostini both practiced fully on Friday.

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