Pens hope return of Malkin, Letang sparks PP unit
Wednesday, 11.03.2010 / 6:30 PMPITTSBURGH (6-5-1) at DALLAS (6-4-0)
TV -- RIS, FS-P (HD), FS-SW (HD)
Last 10 --
Season series --
This is the clubs' first and only meeting this season. The Pens took last season's lone matchup, 6-3, on Mar. 6 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby scored 2 goals, including the game-winner, and had an assist, to help Pittsburgh to a 6-3 win.
Big Story --
The Penguins got a dose of bad news Monday, followed by some better news Tuesday. While center Jordan Staal could miss up to six weeks recovering from surgery Wednesday to repair a fractured right hand, forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang both skated at practice Tuesday and are expected to be in the lineup at Dallas after both suffered minor injuries against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Wednesday's game marks the start of a three-game road trip. After playing in Dallas, Anaheim and Phoenix, they return to Pittsburgh on Nov. 10, where they will play five of their next six.
Saturday's 3-0 win at Carolina ended a three-game winless streak for Pittsburgh, but the team still is struggling mightily on the power play. The Pens are scoreless over their last 23 opportunities with the man-advantage, but the return of Malkin gives them enough reason to start thinking positive. Malkin was second on the team in power-play points last season with 28 and shared the lead with Sidney Crosby for power-play goals with 13.
While Dallas is winding down its six-game homestand, it probably can't wait to hit the road again after beginning the recent stretch at American Airlines Center at 1-3-0. But a win Wednesday, coupled by another victory Friday against Phoenix, could salvage a split for the Stars.
Things definitely appeared to turn around Saturday as backup goalie Andrew Raycroft
started his first home game for Dallas and made 34 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres to earn his first win as a member of the Stars.
Who's Hot --
Pittsburgh should be grateful Letang is expected to play Wednesday as the defenseman had points in five of six games before being injured Saturday. ... As of Tuesday, Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas
leads the NHL with a plus-10 rating, while holding his own on the physical side with 21 penalty minutes.
Injury Report --
Staal (fractured right hand) could miss up to six weeks following Wednesday surgery, while Malkin (knee) and Letang (upper body) are expected in the lineup Wednesday. Right wing Eric Godard returned from an illness Saturday and will be available Wednesday. ... The Stars should be rolling out a fully-healthy lineup.
Stat Pack --
If the Pens hope to turn their power-play struggles around, then Dallas is the team to do it against. The Stars are last in the NHL with just a 68.4-percent success rate on the penalty kill.
Puck Drop --
When a team hears that one of its top-line players might have suffered an injury, it usually sends a wave of panic through the locker room. But Malkin calmed those fears quickly Tuesday at practice.
"I skated before practice to see how my knee feels," Malkin told Penguins.com reporter Sam Kasan. "It's not sore. It feels pretty strong. I am ready for the game now."