PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (12-12-2) at
EDMONTON OILERS (13-14-1)
7:38 p.m. MST
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Edmonton/Pittsburgh Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
With an opportunity to get back to .500 and potentially move into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference on the line, the Edmonton Oilers meet the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Rexall Place.
Tonight is the first game ever in Edmonton for 20-year-old phenom Sidney Crosby in this his third season in the NHL. Crosby already had a Hart Trophy as league MVP and Art Ross Trophy as NHL’s leading scorer on his resume before ever setting foot in Edmonton.
Edmonton has won a season-high three consecutive games heading into tonight. The streak started with a big 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks last Friday followed by a 4-0 win in Anaheim on Sunday. Two nights ago, the Oilers had a hard-fought 4-3 shootout win in Los Angeles over the Kings.
Pittsburgh, like Edmonton, has 26 points on the season but after a slow start to the season that saw them begin with a record of 8-11-2, they’re starting to turn their game around. The Pens have a record of 5-2-1 in their last eight games.
The last time these two teams met, the Oilers won 3-1 back on January 10, 2006. That game was in Pittsburgh.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (12:30 PM): Ales Hemsky
said after the morning skate that he is ready to play tonight. He skated for the first time since his injury this morning and declared himself ready to go. Patrick Thoresen looks to be the odd man out if Hemsky plays... Geoff Sanderson did not skate and is doubtful... Dwayne Roloson gets the start tonight in goal.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Fernando Pisani plays his first game on home ice since returning to the lineup on Sunday. He missed the first 26 games of the season due to Ulcerative Colitis. In his two games so far, Pisani has a +1 rating with three shots on goal… Joni Pitkanen has played well for the Oilers since returning from injury on November 22 but only recently is he starting to put up points. On Sunday, Pitkanen scored a goal and Monday versus LA he had a goal and an assist… After only four points in his first 15 games, Robert Nilsson has picked up four points in his last five outings with the Oilers including an assist in each of the last three games.
PENGUINS TO WATCH:
All eyes will be on Sidney Crosby tonight. He is currently second in the NHL in points with 37 and is on pace for 117 points this season. Last season, he led the league with 120 points en route to being named the NHL MVP… Evgeni Malkin is on pace for a 98 points season after picking up 85 points in his rookie year. At only 21 years old, he and Crosby rank second and first respectively on the Pens in scoring… Former Oiler Georges Laraque returns to Rexall Place tonight. Laraque has a goal and three assists for four points this season in 18 games played plus 21 penalty minutes… Former Oiler Petr Sykora also returns. He has nine goals and 17 points in 26 games for the Pens.
Edmonton – Ales Hemsky
(leg) is probable. Geoff Sanderson (back) is doubtful. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Ethan Moreau (foot) is out. Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Dick Tarnstrom (concussion) is out; Pittsburgh – The Penguins are healthy.
Crosby has an even-or-better rating in 11 consecutive games, totaling a +8 rating during that span. He has also picked up at least a point in five straight games (3g, 4a)… Malkin has only been held without a point four times all season… Edmonton has picked up a power play goal in three straight games for only the second time all season. Prior to their current stretch, they were without a power play marker in three straight games and six of eight… Sykora has registered a shot on goal in every game this season for Pittsburgh. The last time he was held without a shot was on January 13, 2007 at Calgary when he was a member of the Oilers. Sykora has only scored two goals on the road thus far in 2007-08.
BONUS Pre-Game Audio...
- Horcoff, Roloson, Penner, Gagner, Gilbert & MacTavish talk about facing the Penguins tonight. 700K
- Penguins’ Captain Sidney Crosby, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, Horcoff, Roloson, Gagner, Gilbert & MacTavish talk about Crosby and his first-ever visit to Edmonton. 700K
Oilers devise game plan for Crosby -
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby plays his first-ever game in Edmonton tonight but the Oilers' main concern is trying to get back to .500 and potentially sneak back into a playoff spot. ...more
Gagner had his own rink of dreams - Sam Gagner
’s success can be traced back to the outdoor rink that graced the Gagner backyard throughout his childhood. ...more
The Other Side
- Sidney Crosby talks to the media Wednesday morning: 700K
- Penguins head coach Michel Therrien speaks with the media Wednesday: 700K
- Sidney Crosby arrives in Edmonton - Listen to Sidney Crosby's Press Conference from the Penguins' hotel on Tuesday. Click here to listen.
- VIDEO: Sidney Crosby arrives in Edmonton - Watch video of Crosby's arrival. 700K
- Penguins head to Western Canada - The Penguins are headed West. The team will make its longest roadtrip of the year this week as it heads to Western Canada ...more
Item of the Game
Each game, a different item is featured at The Oilers Store at Rexall Place.
Tonight's item is a Cadbury Cream Cap (regular $24.99, now $14.99).
Odds and Ends
- Vote for the Play of the Week! - Each week, edmontonoilers.com features the best of the past seven days and gives fans a chance to vote on their favourite goal, hit or save. At the end of the season each weekly winner will become part of our Plays of the Year poll. ...more
- Matt Greene on Oilers Live - Defenceman Matt Greene is the guest on Oilers Live this Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Follow the link to ask him a question! ...more
From the Wire
Sidney Crosby was a national legend growing up on the far eastern coast of Canada in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. But the western half of hockey's homeland also has an affinity for the NHL's biggest star.
Crosby makes his first trip to western Canada as the Pittsburgh Penguins look for their fifth win in six games on Wednesday when they face the Edmonton Oilers, who are looking for their fourth in a row.
It's the first of a four-game road trip for the Penguins (12-12-2), who will also visit Calgary and Vancouver before traveling back east, and because of the current NHL scheduling format, it's the first chance in Crosby's three-year career that fans of Canada's three Western Conference teams will see him play.
"It's always nice to go to new places," Crosby said. "It's a little busier (when the Penguins are in Canada). There's a lot more going on. A lot more interviews."
Crosby, the NHL's reigning scoring champ and MVP, is having three news conferences in Edmonton alone - one after the Penguins arrived at their hotel late Tuesday afternoon, and two others on game day Wednesday.
His team's play on the ice has begun to pick up over the past few weeks. After a two-week stretch in mid-November when it lost six of seven games, Pittsburgh responded by winning four of five, outscoring its opponents 20-12 in the process.
Its latest win was a 3-1 home victory against Phoenix on Monday, and it showed that even if Crosby isn't dominant, the Penguins can still win. The 20-year-old only had one shot on goal, though he did assist on rookie Kris Letang's power-play goal - the eventual game-winner - midway through the third period.
"He's smart and he got in the right spot, it took him a couple to get it but it was a big one for us," Crosby said. "The power play was struggling a bit there, so to get a chance like that late in the game and come through was big."
The improved performance of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been a big reason for Pittsburgh's better play of late. He won one of his nine starts from Oct. 25-Nov. 22, going 1-5-1 with a 3.88 GAA in that span. But he's allowed just two goals in winning his last three starts, posting a 0.67 GAA.
Edmonton (13-14-1) has looked impressive in winning its last three games, beating Anaheim twice by a combined 9-1 score and edging Los Angeles 4-3 in a shootout on Monday.
The Oilers scored three times in the second period against the Kings to take a 3-2 lead, but Los Angeles tied the score with less than two minutes to play in regulation. After a scoreless overtime, Sam Gagner scored in the shootout and Mathieu Garon was perfect to pick up a win over his former team as Edmonton improved to a league-best 7-1 in shootouts.
"I was just trying to be focused on the puck," Garon said. "...They're so skilled that you never know what they're going to do. And for their part, they know me, too. So it's pretty even."
Edmonton has scored 72 goals, but has struggled on the power play. The Oilers have scored just 15 times in 125 chances with the man advantage - a 12 percent conversion rate that's the worst mark in the league.
Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton's leading scorer, has four of the team's power-play goals and leads the team with 11 goals and 16 assists.
The Penguins last played in Edmonton on Dec. 6, 2003, a 4-3 Oilers win. Edmonton also won the teams' most recent meeting, 3-1, in Pittsburgh on Jan. 10, 2006.