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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Penguins, Sunday 3/7

The Bruins (29-23-11) will go for their sixth straight road win this afternoon in Pittsburgh when they make their second stop on their seven-game road trip, taking on the defending champs, the Penguins (39-22-4).

The Penguins have caught a hot streak as of late, especially at home, where they have earned points in seven straight (5-0-2). They are of course led by one of the world’s greats, Sidney Crosby, who has had himself quite the week. A week ago today, it was his overtime goal past U.S. goalie Ryan Miller that earned Canada the gold medal in Vancouver. Following that, his pair of goals in yesterday’s 6-3 win over Dallas gave Crosby the league lead in goals with 44, putting him two ahead of the NHL’s points leader, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.

As for Boston, they continued to be road warriors, taking two points in yesterday’s matinee with the Islanders, winning 3-2 on the heels of Tim Thomas’s 37-save performance.

Let’s now dive in and take a closer look at today’s matchup…

  • These two squads haven’t met since mid-November, when they split a pair of games, each winning on their own home ice. Boston shut out Pittsburgh 3-0 at the Garden, with Pittsburgh hosting a 6-5 win of their own over Boston just four days later.
  • Pittsburgh was active during last week’s trade deadline, as they normally are in recent years. GM Ray Shero added defenseman Jordan Leopold from Florida and winger Alexei Ponikarovsky from Toronto in the days leading up to Wednesday’s 3pm deadline.
  • Getting back to Crosby, Sid the Kid has 26 points in his last 15 games (14G, 12A), leading the team with 83 points. Following Crosby is another center, Evgeni Malkin (22G, 45A), who yesterday had his career-long 15-game points streak snapped. After Malkin, the team’s third center, Jordan Staal (18G, 26A) highlights the stat sheet, with five goals and five assists in his last nine games.
  • In goal, Tim Thomas will be opposed by either Marc-Andre Fleury (30-16-4, 2.71GAA) or backup Brent Johnson (9-5-0, 2.60GAA). Fleury has struggled lately against Boston, going 0-2-0 with a 3.45GAA in his last three starts facing the B’s, while Brent Johnson has won his last two starts over the Bruins, including November 14th’s 6-5 win.
  • On the injury front, Boston will be without defenseman Andrew Ference (groin) and goalie Tuukka Rask (knee) this afternoon. Both players are listed as day-to-day. In Pittsburgh, veteran Bill Guerin (back) is day-to-day as well, and unlikely to play against his former team today, while defenseman Eric Godard remains out with a groin injury.

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