Game 63: Penguins @ Stars Preview

GAME 63

Pittsburgh Penguins (36-21-5, 77 pts) @ Dallas Stars (33-26-4, 70 pts)
Where: 7:38 p.m. | Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Tv: NBC SN
Referees: Gord Dwyer (#19), Tim Peel (#20) Linesmen Thor Nelson (#80), Scott Cherrey (#50)

LEADERS

Points: PIT E. MALKIN (78), J. NEAL (61),C. KUNITZ (43) | DAL L. ERIKSSON (55), J. BENN (49), M. RIBEIRO (47)
Goals: PIT E. MALKIN (37),J. NEAL (30),J. STAAL (21) | DAL M. RYDER (25), L. ERIKSSON (21), J. BENN (17)
Assists: PIT E. MALKIN (41), J. NEAL (31), C. KUNITZ (26) | DAL L. ERIKSSON (34), M. RIBEIRO (33), J. BENN (32)
PP Goals: PIT J. NEAL (13), E. MALKIN (10), S. SULLIVAN (5) M. RYDER (5), B. MORROW (4), S. OTT (4)
SH Goals: PIT J. STAAL (3), M. COOKE (2), P. DUPUIS (2) | DAL S. SOURAY (1), R. DVORAK (1), L. ERIKSSON (1)
GW Goals: PIT E. MALKIN (8),P. DUPUIS (5),R. PARK (3) | DAL M. RYDER (5), J. BENN (5), M. RIBEIRO (4)
Shots: PIT E. MALKIN (254), J. NEAL (253), C. KUNITZ (171) | DAL M. RYDER (150), J. BENN (146), L. ERIKSSON (142)
+/-: PIT PP. DUPUIS (+12),B. ORPIK (+12),E. MALKIN (+11) | DAL M. RYDER (+14),S. SOURAY (+13),L. ERIKSSON (+13)

Pre-Game Buzz

— The Pittsburgh Penguins come into tonight’s game 15-4-1 in their last 20 games and are coming off a dominating homestand, going 3-0 and outscoring their opponents 14-3. The Penguins are currently 4th in the Eastern Conference with 77 points and would face the Ottawa Senators in a 4-5 matchup if the playoffs started today. Pittsburgh is 6-3-1 in their last ten games.
— The Dallas Stars are currently on a four-game winning streak, the fourth winning streak of at least three games this season and the first since December. They have outscored the opposition 13-4 in that span and have jumped from 10th in the Western Conference to the eighth and final playoff spot. If the playoffs started today, the Stars would play against the Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
— Tonight marks the second meeting of the season between the two teams. On the November 11th matchup in Pittsburgh, the Penguins won 3-1 and got a big game from former Stars winger James Neal who scored a pair of power play goals, including the game-winner 7:19 into the third period. Matt Cooke also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves to record the victory. The Penguins are 6-1 in their last seven games against Dallas.
— Tonight’s goaltending matchup features Kari Lehtonen (24-15- 3, 2.32 GAA, .921%) vs Marc Andre Fleury (32-14-3, 2.34 GAA, .912%). Lehtonen has been strong of late, winning three straight starts, posting an 0.98 goals against average and .965 save percentage, stopping 83 of 86 shots. Lehtonen is 7-4-2 in his career vs Pittsburgh but he’s 1-3-0 with a 3.53 goals-against average in his last four starts against the Penguins.
Marc Andre Fleury is eyeing his 33rd win of the season tonight. Fleury is 13-2-1 in his last 16 starts and 5-0-0 with a 1.77 goals against average and .930 save percentage in his career vs Dallas.
Evgeni Malkin (37G-41A-78Pts) enters tonight’s game with a league leading 78 points and holds a two point lead over Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos (44G-32A-76pts). Malkin has goals in 14 of his last 20 games and during that span he’s collected 20 goals and 13 assists, averaging 1.65 points per game. Malkin leads the league averaging 1.42 points per game.
Jordan Staal (21G-10A-31Pts) has 6 goals and 4 assists in eight games since returning from injury on February 11th. Staal who is fourth in the NHL with a 21.9% shooting percentage, has 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points in his last 79 games, (since 1/20/11) an average of 0.41 goals per game and 0.77 points per game. Over an 82 game period, that projects to 34 goals and 63 points.
— Stars LW Jamie Benn (17G-32A-49pts) returns to the lineup after missing the last six games due to a leg laceration.
SPECIAL TEAMS BREAKDOWN
PIT POWER PLAY
47-225, 20.9% (5th in NHL)
5-on-4: 43-203, 21.2%
5-on-3: 3-12, 25.0%
4-on-3: 1-9, 11.1%
PIT PENALTY KILL
185-209, 88.5% (2nd in NHL)
5-on-4: 172-193, 89.1%
5-on-3: 11-12, 91.7%
4-on-3: 2-4, 50.0%

BY THE NUMBERS

9-2-3: The Penguins record against the Western Conference, an NHL best
8-6-2: The Stars record vs the Eastern Conference
1.54: Points per game for Evgeni Malkin in his last 35 games, dating back to Dec 8, 2011.
70: Combined amount of points for Evgeni Malkin (26), James Neal (25) and Steve Sullivan (19) on the power play this season.
20-0-2: Penguins record when leading after two periods
19-0-1: Stars record when leading after two periods
81: Third period goals the Penguins have scored this season, third best mark in the NHL
8-1: Dallas has outscored the opposition 8-1 from the third period on during their current four game winning streak.
3.08: Pittsburgh ranks 3rd in the NHL, averaging 3.08 goals per game.
40.8%: The amount of team-goals Evgeni Malkin has factored into, 3rd best mark in the NHL
50: Stars winger Loui Eriksson (21G-34A-55pts) is one of 14 NHL players who has an active streak of at least four consecutive 50 point seasons.
18-2-2: The Penguins record this season when defenseman Kris Letang records a point.
56.8%: Since January 20th, Joe Vitale is 56.8% in the faceoff circle, winning 109 of 192 draws.
5: Evgeni Malkin (5G-4A) and Steve Sullivan (1G-7A) each enter tonight’s game on five game point streak. Matt Cooke, 3 games (1G-3A); and Pascal Dupuis, 3 games (2G-1A) also have current point streaks.
7: Stars winger Mike Ribeiro enters tonight’s game on a seven games point streak, collecting 3 goals and 10 points during that span. Trevor Daley: 4 games (0-4-4); Loui Eriksson: 3 games (3-2-5); Michael Ryder: 3 games (2-2-4); and Steve Ott: 3 games (1-2-3) also enter tonight’s game on point streaks.
150: Dan Bylsma earned his 150th career win Sunday afternoon vs the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bylsma became the fourth-fastest coach (251 games) in NHL history to reach that milestone
54-32-9: The Penguins record in their last 95 games without Sidney Crosby

PENGUINS LINEUP

Kunitz – Malkin – Neal
Sullivan – Staal – Dupuis
Cooke – Vitale – Park
Tangradi – Adams – Asham
DEFENSEMEN
Orpik – Michalek
Martin – Letang
Niskanen – Engelland
GOALTENDERS
1. Marc Andre Fleury
2. Brad Thiessen
Expected Scratches: Dustin Jeffrey, Ben Lovejoy, Brent Johnson.

*Stats provided by Inside Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars, Stats LLC*

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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