Penguins-Blues Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 08, 2013
Though the Pittsburgh Penguins have a chance to measure themselves against one of the better teams in the Western Conference on Saturday night, it's their previous game that may be occupying their thoughts. Looking to rebound from a lopsided loss to a division rival, the Penguins close out a three-game road trip against the surging St. Louis Blues in a high-profile matchup of Stanley Cup contenders. Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh (11-5-0) came to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday having won four in a row, allowing five goals in that stretch, but matched that total over 60 minutes in a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves and the Penguins went 1 for 8 on the power play, getting routed despite a 29-25 shots advantage. ''We weren't good,'' coach Dan Bylsma said. ''We gave them opportunities. We didn't play at all at our game and then we got disjointed in our effort. We got disjointed in our game in the second. ''That wasn't anything close to where we need to play or want to play.'' Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh, which managed one or no goals for just the third time this season. "Some nights," left wing Tanner Glass told the team's official website, "we don't mentally have it. It's concerning. "We were playing well, carrying the play," Glass added. "Then, our second period was so subpar. The execution of our plan was poor. To me, that's not a resilient team or a team that's confident when it's down by two." That has seemed to be the case for the Penguins on the road at times. They fell to 4-3-0 away from home, with the losses coming by a 15-5 margin. That could prove problematic against St. Louis (10-2-2), which is 6-1-1 at home after a 3-2 victory over Calgary on Thursday. Alex Steen scored his NHL-leading 14th goal in 14 games and Brian Elliott stopped 18 shots for his 100th career win for the Blues, winners of five of six. St. Louis led 2-0 at the end of the first period after outshooting the Flames 11-2. ''Everything we needed to do, we did in that first period,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''We were really going, really on top of our game.'' Hitchcock, though, wasn't thrilled with five minor penalties his team took over the second and third periods, though none of them led to power-play goals. The Blues were outshot 18-16 the rest of the way by struggling Calgary. "I would say they were unnecessary penalties, some of them were ... penalties you can't afford to take if you want to be a really good team," Hitchcock told the team's official website. "You can't afford to take those, so that's something we're going to have to learn." St. Louis may want to have it learned by the time the puck drops Saturday, as Pittsburgh has gone 5 for 21 (23.8 percent) with the man advantage over the past six contests. The Blues, though, have killed off 15 straight power plays. The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin has four assists in the past three games, but he hasn't scored a goal in nine straight. Steen has been a study in consistency this season, scoring in all but two games and recording at least a point in all but one. The Penguins avoided a third straight loss in the series with a 3-2 shootout victory in the last meeting Jan. 24, 2012.
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