National Hockey League
Preview
Arizona at Pittsburgh
When: 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 28, 2015
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


The Pittsburgh Penguins have stumbled badly down the stretch but still remain in contention for second place in the Metropolitan Division as they prepare to host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon. The Penguins are only two points behind the New York Islanders in the division with a game in hand despite losing two in a row and six of their last seven (1-5-1). Yet Pittsburgh also is in danger of dropping into the top wild card, leading fourth-place Washington by one point.

The Penguins need to reverse their struggles at Consol Energy Center, having lost three in a row there entering the opener of a three-game homestand against the struggling Coyotes. Western Conference-worst Arizona has won the first two stops of its three-game road trip to snap an eight-game losing streak. The Coyotes had lost 18 of 19 overall before back-to-back overtime wins at Detroit and Buffalo, but they have not been victorious in regulation since Feb. 3.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, ROOT (Pittsburgh)

ABOUT THE COYOTES (23-44-8): Oliver Ekman-Larsson has scored four times in the past five games to take over the NHL lead for defensemen with 21 tallies while putting himself among some pretty select company. Ekman-Larsson, who needs two goals to tie Phil Housley's franchise single-season mark, also broke the record for most tallies in a season for a Swedish-born defenseman, eclipsing the total set by former Detroit Red Wings standout Nicklas Lidstrom. “I didn't know that, but that’s pretty special," Ekman-Larsson said after Thursday's win.

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (40-23-11): Injuries have played a pivotal part in Pittsburgh's recent slide, with second-leading scorer Evgeni Malkin missing the past six games with a lower-body injury and No. 4 scorer Patric Hornqvist sitting out five in a row. Both players were back at practice Friday but Malkin, who has scored a team-high 28 goals to go along with 40 assists, appears closer to returning than Hornqvist, who said he is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

OVERTIME

1. Pittsburgh's power play has converted on only 3-of-36 chances over the past 12 games.

2. Coyotes G Mike Smith will be seeking his first three-game winning streak of the season.

3. Penguins G Thomas Greiss will get the start Saturday. Pittsburgh has been blanked in his last two starts.

PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Coyotes 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Arizona 23-44-3-5 W2 10-23-3-2 13-21-0-3 1-7-0-0 22-37-3-5 11-13-0-0
Pittsburgh 40-23-5-6 L2 21-12-2-2 19-11-3-4 2-4-0-1 38-19-5-5 9-13-2-2
Last Meeting
Arizona Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
3/21/15 PIT 3 ARI 1 31 34 0-3 37 30 1-4
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Arizona D. Moss 1
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 2
Goals Player  
Arizona T. Rieder 1
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 1
Assists Player  
Arizona D. Moss 1
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 1
Saves Player  
Arizona M. Smith 34
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 30
Season
Total Points Player  
Arizona O. Ekman-Larsson 42
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 75
Goals Player  
Arizona O. Ekman-Larsson 21
Pittsburgh E. Malkin 28
Assists Player  
Arizona S. Gagner 24
Pittsburgh S. Crosby 51
Saves Player  
Arizona M. Smith 1649
Pittsburgh M. Fleury 1568
Quickchart Matchup
Arizona Off vs  Pittsburgh Def
2.04 GF
2.43 GA
29.4 Shots
29.2 Shots
44 PP
37 PK
Pittsburgh Off vs  Arizona Def
2.72 GF
3.25 GA
31.1 Shots
32.7 Shots
45 PP
56 PK