PENGUINS (32-12-1) at OILERS (14-27-5)
WHEN: January 10, 2013 - 10:00 p.m. | WHERE: Rexall Place
Last 10: Pittsburgh 8-2-0; Edmonton 3-5-2
Season series: This is the second and final game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers. Pittsburgh beat Edmonton 3-2 on Oct. 15 at CONSOL Energy Center, with Sidney Crosby assisting on all three Penguins goals. Pittsburgh dropped its last game in Edmonton 2-1 on Oct. 9, 2011 as Ales Hemsky scored in the second round of the shootout to secure the win.
Big story: These teams enter this game heading in very different directions. Despite a slew of injuries, the Penguins have won 12 of their past 14 games. The Oilers have managed to avoid injuries to any of their top players but have lost 11 of their past 14.
Penguins: Pascal Dupuis' recent knee injury notwithstanding, Pittsburgh appears to be getting healthy at the perfect time. In the past two weeks, they've seen the return of center Evgeni Malkin and defensemen Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik from injuries. Having those players back has done wonders for Pittsburgh's offense, which has scored 15 goals in the past three games. The defense is another story.
After allowing five goals in a 6-5 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, Pittsburgh came into Rogers Arena on Tuesday night and had trouble stopping the Vancouver Canucks. After leading 2-0 more than halfway through the game, the Penguins allowed four unanswered goals to give Vancouver a 4-2 lead. Letang and Sidney Crosby scored in the final 71 seconds of regulation before Crosby scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Penguins a 5-4 win.
"They did it to us, so it was nice we did it back," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "When your team does something like that, you just want to help out, and I got my chance in the shootout."
Oilers: Three wins in four games at the end of December gave a glimmer of hope to Edmonton, which earned back-to-back wins for the first time in over a month. But the Oilers have gone 1-3-2 since then.
After starting their current three-game homestand with a 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, Edmonton hosted the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Despite being outshot 14-7 in the first period, Edmonton only trailed St. Louis 1-0 after 20 minutes. They also showed some mettle in the opening minutes of the middle period, as they came back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to tie up the game. But they couldn't continue that play through the second half of the game, getting held to three shots in the third and 18 overall in a 5-2 loss.
Defenseman Brad Hunt was assigned to the American Hockey League on Thursday, potentially opening the door for Corey Potter to return from injury. The team also experimented this week with Sam Gagner playing right wing to jump-start an offense that has scored two or fewer goals in three of the past four games.
Who's hot: Crosby has 11 points on his current six-game point streak. Malkin has four points in two games since returning from injury. … Nail Yakupov has three goals in his past four games and Gagner has three assists in his past two games.
Injury report: Pittsburgh is without goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) and forwards Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chuck Kobasew (lower body), Chris Connor (hand), Dupuis (ACL), Jayson Megna (lower body), Andrew Ebbett (ankle) and Paul Martin (broken tibia). … Edmonton is missing defensemen Philip Larsen (illness) and Potter (groin).