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Slumping Penguins host Preds
(SportsNetwork.com) - Held to just three goals over their past three games, the Pittsburgh Penguins try to avoid losing four straight for the first time this season as they play host to the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
The Pens have now posted a pair of three-game slides around a string of four straight wins and have yielded nine goals over their current slump while failing to score more than one goal themselves in the three games.
Pittsburgh suffered its second straight 2-1 setback on Wednesday night, falling to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers despite Sidney Crosby's first goal in eight games.
Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen had assists and Marc-Andre Fleury posted 19 saves.
Pittsburgh outshot Philadelphia 31-21 and also had a goal waived off 19 seconds into the game when it was ruled Chris Kunitz kicked the puck past Flyers netminder Ray Emery following a Crosby shot.
"We played a solid game. We just didn't (score) on our chances," Penguins forward James Neal said.
Though he has an assist in five straight games, Malkin has not posted a goal in 11 straight contests.
Pittsburgh will try to avoid losing four straight for the first time since a six-game slide from Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 11, 2012 and has won its past two meetings with Nashville. That includes a 5-1 home victory in the most recent encounter on March 22, 2012.
Malkin scored twice, Neal had four assists and Fleury notched 29 saves.
Fleury, who has been in net for all three games of this current slide, is 3-2-1 with a 2.26 goals against average in six career meetings with the Preds, including five starts.
Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin has missed the last two games with a lower- body injury, but skated on Thursday and could return to action tonight.
Nashville is also on a three-game slide and has produced less offense than Pittsburgh. The Preds followed up back-to-back 5-0 losses to Winnipeg and New Jersey with Tuesday's 3-1 setback to the New York Islanders.
Patric Hornqvist had Nashville's only goal and it didn't come until 5:30 left to play. Marek Mazanec gave up all three goals on 33 shots in his first career start.
"We were slow to the puck all night and they did a better job winning the 1- on-1 battles," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. "We're going through a tough time. We have to tighten up and put together better efforts."
Nashville fell to 2-3-1 on its seven-game road trip and it is unknown if Mazanec earned a second career start or if Trotz will go back to Carter Hutton, who has seen the bulk of the work since Pekka Rinne was lost to a hip injury.
Hutton is 4-3-1 with a 3.53 GAA in nine games (8 starts) this season, and gave up eight of the 10 goals in the setbacks to the Jets and Devils.
Forward Filip Forsberg could be in Nashville's lineup tonight after getting recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
The 19-year-old, the 11th overall pick of the 2012 draft by Washington, began the season with the Predators and had a goal -- the first of his career -- and four assists in 11 games before getting sent down. He notched a goal and five assists in his four-game stint with Milwaukee.
11/15 11:02:59 ET