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Penguins preview: 12/5 vs. Sharks

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have won four straight games and look to make five straight as they take on the San Jose Sharks tonight in Pittsburgh. The Penguins are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. That same night, the Sharks added to their own winning streak, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, for their sixth straight. Something has to give tonight.

When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:00 pm/et (Root Sports, CSN-CA)

Records: Penguins (19-9-1, 39 pts.); Sharks (19-3-5, 43 pts.)

Season series: First meeting of the season.

Last meeting: The Penguins and Sharks last faced-off against one another on November 3, 2011 in San Jose. Thanks to a goal by (now-Devil) Ryane Clowe in the shootout, the Sharks came away with a 4-3 victory over the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin scored twice for Pittsburgh while San Jose got goals from Patrick Marleau, Jamie McGinn, and Clowe. Thomas Greiss relieved Antti Niemi about two minutes into the game, and stopped twenty-nine of thirty shots for win number three of the season.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Tomas Hertl: The league leader in points among rookies with twenty-one, Hertl has fit in nicely on the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. In case you were living under a rock during the month of October, Hertl netted four goals against the New York Rangers including this gem that ruffled some feathers in the hockey world.

2. Simon Despres: In four games this season, Despres has averaged about nineteen minutes of ice time per game. The twenty-two year old defenseman has also been a plus player in three of the four games, and has impressed head coach Dan Bylsma in the process.

Ex-Penguin alert: RW Tyler Kennedy (2006-2013)

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), RW Chuck Kobasew (lower body), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), LW Tanner Glass (broken hand), C Evgeni Malkin (lower body)

Sharks: RW Adam Burish (lower body), LW Raffi Torres (knee)

Additional notes:

-There will be a Tyler Kennedy tribute video at some point during the game. It should only be his goal in game four of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final and that’s it. With that said, he will probably score a goal tonight.

-Evgeni Malkin is day-to-day with a lower body injury, and will not play tonight.

-Game number 500 in the career of Sidney Crosby.

-Joe Thornton said this once…it was fun.

Projected lines:

Penguins (via Emptynetters)

14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-9 Pascal Dupuis

12 Chuck Kobasew-36 Jussi Jokinen-18 James Neal

23 Chris Conner-16 Brandon Sutter-25 Andrew Ebbett

38 Zach Sill-46 Joe Vitale-27 Craig Adams

44 Brooks Orpik (A)-5 Deryk Engelland

3 Olli Maatta-58 Kris Letang

2 Matt Niskanen-47 Simon Despres

29 Marc-Andre Fleury (15-7-1, .918 Save %, 2.06 GAA, 3 SO)

Sharks (via dailyfaceoff.com)

48 Tomas Hertl-19 Joe Thornton (C)-88 Brent Burns

12 Patrick Marleau (A)-39 Logan Couture-57 Tommy Wingels

9 Martin Havlat-8 Joe Pavelski-81 Tyler Kennedy

15 James Sheppard-10 Andrew Desjardins-18 Mike Brown

61 Justin Braun-44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic

7 Brad Stuart-22 Dan Boyle (A)

5 Jason Demers-27 Scott Hannan

31 Antti Niemi (16-3-5, .918 Save %, 2.21 GAA, 2 SO)

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