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Penguins Vs. Lightning: Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos Square Off In Tampa Bay

Sports Network | October 27, 2010

 

(Sports Network) - The NHL's leading goal scorers from last season go head-to- head this evening when Sidney Crosby leads his Pittsburgh Penguins down south to face Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.

Crosby and Stamkos shared the Rocket Richard Trophy a season ago after both forwards ended the regular season with 51 goals. The two are at it again so far this season as Stamkos is tied for the league lead with eight goals, while Crosby has six so far on the young season.

Stamkos also leads the NHL with 15 points, while Crosby is a little further back with 11.

The 20-year-old Stamkos comes into this matchup riding a four-game point streak. He has amassed four goals and nine points over the run, which he extended in Sunday's 4-3 loss to Nashville with an assist. Both of Stamkos' career goals and five of his six points versus the Penguins came in last year's four-game season series, which the two clubs split.

Sean Bergenheim, Adam Hall and Martin St. Louis scored versus the Predators for the Lightning, who have alternated wins and losses over their last six games but still lead the Southeast Division with 11 points.

Tampa Bay held a 45-26 edge in shots on Sunday, but netminder Dan Ellis was beaten four times against his former club.

"[The Predators] outworked us, and that's why they came out on top," St. Louis said. "It's tough to come back in this league."

Tampa Bay may lean heavily on Stamkos tonight since as many of five regular skaters could sit out tonight's game. Simon Gagne (stiff neck/illness) and Mattias Ohlund (right knee) are doubtful, while Dominic Moore (groin), Brett Clark (wrist) and Matt Smaby (stomach virus) are all questionable.

Ellis is just 1-2-1 with a 3.67 goals-against average this season and Tampa Bay could elect to go with fellow netminder Mike Smith tonight. Smith is 4-0-0 with a 3.12 GAA on the season and has solid career numbers versus the Penguins, going 3-3-0 with a 1.68 GAA in six games.

Crosby had posted five goals and 10 points over a five-game point streak that ended in Saturday's 1-0 overtime loss to St. Louis. He didn't score versus the Lightning a season ago and has five goals and 11 assists in 18 games against them lifetime.

Pittsburgh's offense was shut down by the Blues' Jaroslav Halak, who made 31 saves. Brent Johnson halted 23 shots for the Penguins, but was beaten for the game-winning goal 50 seconds into overtime.

"Give [the Blues] the first. We outplayed them in the second and the third was 50-50. ... I thought the second half of the game we probably had a bit of the edge but at the same time I thought we limited their shots but still gave them some pretty good chances when they did get chances," said Crosby.

Pittsburgh had a four-game win streak end but did pick up a point for the sixth time in seven games (5-1-1). The Pens have won five of seven and seven of their last 10 over the Lightning and have taken five of the last six played in Tampa.

Johnson fell to 4-0-1 on the season and is 7-2-2 with a tie in his career versus the Lightning. Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-7-3 with a 2.45 GAA when facing the club, but is just 1-3-0 with a 3.25 GAA in four starts this season.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik returned after missing the last six games due to a groin strain, while forward Aaron Asham is expected to make his season and Pittsburgh debut tonight after missing the start of the season with a shoulder ailment.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.