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Penguins preview: 1/25 at Stars

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As Western Pennsylvania is getting bombarded with snow and freezing temperatures, the Pittsburgh Penguins head south to Texas to take on the Dallas Stars. The Penguins are coming off a sloppy, yet successful trip to Long Island, defeating the Islanders on Thursday night. The Stars have won two games in a row including a 7-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

When and where: American Airlines Center (Dallas, TX); 8:00 pm/et (Root Sports, FS-SW)

Records: Penguins (36-13-2, 74 pts.); Stars (23-20-8, 54 pts.)

Season series: First meeting of the season

Last meeting: The Penguins and Stars last saw each other way back on February 29, 2012 in Dallas. The Penguins left the big D with the two points that come along with a victory thanks to a 4-3 shootout triumph. Steve Sullivan, Chris Kunitz, and Craig Adams all scored in regulation time for the Penguins with James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, and Kunitz beating Kari Lehtonen in the shootout. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped two of the four Dallas shooters for his thirty-third victory of the season.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Jamie Benn: The captain of the Stars is coming off a four-point game, including his 100th career NHL goal, against the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Benn sits two points behind fellow linemate, Tyler Seguin, for the points lead on the Stars.

2. James Neal: Due to the most recent lockout and now being in the Eastern Conference, this is only James Neal’s third career game against his former team. In those two previous games, Neal has two goals. The ex-Star has also registered points in his last two games against the Canadiens and Islanders.

Ex-Penguin alert: D Sergei Gonchar (2005-2010), D Alex Goligoski (2008-2011), Advisor to Hockey Operations Mark Reechi (1988-1992, 2005-2006, 2007), amateur scout Jiri Hrdina (1990-1992)

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), RW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (hand), C Brian Gibbons (lower body), C Joe Vitale (wrist)

Stars: D Stephane Robidas (broken leg), C Cody Eakin (upper body)

Additional notes:

-Former Penguins Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski vs. Former Stars James Neal and Matt Niskanen.

-Before being able to face his former team for the first time, ex-Penguin Dustin Jeffrey was sent to the Texas Stars of the AHL.

-Andrew Ebbett will make his return to the Pittsburgh lineup after missing twenty-one games with a broken ankle.

-To make room for Ebbett’s return, Zach Sill was sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-Don’t expect Jayson Megna to stay on the third line for very long.

Projected lines:

Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)

14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-12 Chuck Kobasew

36 Jussi Jokinen-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal

17 Taylor Pyatt-16 Brandon Sutter-59 Jayson Megna

15 Tanner Glass-25 Andrew Ebbett-27 Craig Adams

44 Brooks Orpik-7 Paul Martin

4 Rob Scuderi-58 Kris Letang

3 Olli Maatta-2 Matt Niskanen

29 Marc-Andre Fleury (28-11-1, .916 save %, 2.30 GAA, 3 SO)

Stars (via stars.nhl.com)

14 Jamie Benn (C)-91 Tyler Seguin-43 Valeri Nichushkin

21 Antoine Roussel-20 Cody Eakin-16 Ryan Garbutt

72 Erik Cole-38 Vernon Fiddler-13 Ray Whitney (A)

17 Rich Peverley-10 Shawn Horcoff (A)-12 Alex Chiasson

33 Alex Goligoski-6 Trevor Daley

4 Brenden Dillon-24 Jordie Benn

27 Aaron Rome-55 Sergei Gonchar

32 Kari Lehtonen (19-14-8, .916 save %, 2.58 GAA, 2 SO)

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