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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, March 6th (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (41-16-4) at San Jose Sharks (39-17-7), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins opted for depth rather than a big splash at Wednesday's trade deadline.
That isn't a surprising move given their lead atop the Atlantic Division and the Pens take aim at a second straight win on Thursday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks.
Pittsburgh found itself linked in trade rumors to Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler, but he was not dealt prior to the deadline.
The Penguins were active in other areas, getting center Marcel Goc from the Florida Panthers and forward Lee Stempniak from the Calgary Flames. The two deals only cost Pittsburgh draft picks.
Goc had 11 goals and 12 assists in 62 games this season and is a steady two- way player who can win draws with consistency.
Meanwhile, Stempniak has tallied eight goals and 15 assists in 52 games this season and is a veteran of 616 NHL games.
Those two will add depth for a playoff run by the Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference with 86 points. That is 14 ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.
Pens general manager Ray Shero admitted to having inquired with the Canucks, but said there was no deal to be made.
"But I think our goal was to try to increase our depth up front and help our forward group, which I think we've accomplished (without trading) anybody off our roster," Shero added on Pittsburgh's website, citing current injuries to forwards Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett. "So that was our main goal. ... hopefully it makes us a better, deeper team."
Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak (0-1-2) with a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Defenseman Matt Niskanen scored twice, Chris Kunitz had a goal and Sidney Crosby tallied three assists.
"The way we played was good, and if we lost there would have been nothing to be mad about," said Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 18 saves.
Crosby upped his league-leading totals in assists (54) and points (83) and will try to further those numbers tonight in the third contest of a five-game road trip.
San Jose also has a solid hold on a playoff spot, sitting second in the Pacific Division and nine points ahead of the third-place Los Angeles Kings.
The Sharks had won four of their previous five before a 3-2 setback to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime on Tuesday.
Marty Havlat and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, while backup goaltender Alex Stalock stopped 32 shots in the loss.
"It's frustrating any time you lose a game, whether it's in overtime, regulation, whatever," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought we played the game in two segments. The first half we were struggling to find our legs and execution. We were flat for whatever reason. We reacted slowly."
San Jose lost the opener of a four-game residency, but has not lost at home to Pittsburgh since Oct. 22, 1997. The Sharks are 9-0-0 with a tie in 10 meetings in San Jose since.
Pittsburgh snapped a three-game series losing streak to the Sharks with a 5-1 victory at home on Dec. 5. Kunitz scored twice during a four-goal second period, while Crosby had three assists in his 500th career game.
Fleury aided the win with 44 saves, while Sharks netminder Antti Niemi yielded four goals on 27 shots through two periods. Stalock stopped two of three shots he faced in the third period in relief.
03/06 11:06:28 ET