Preview: Oilers at Penguins
The clash pitting the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins has featured superstar captains Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby at the top of the marquee, but it is the potential return of another former Hart Trophy recipient that has generated significant buzz. Evgeni Malkin is looking to end an 11-game absence due to a lower-body injury and draw into the lineup for Saturday's matinee affair in Pittsburgh.
Malkin has watched Pittsburgh win seven of its last 10, including a 3-0 victory over Dallas on Saturday and a 7-1 drubbing of Philadelphia three nights later. Crosby collected one goal and two assists versus the Flyers and had two of each when going head-to-head with McDavid in their six career meetings, with the Penguins a perfect 6-0-0 in those contests. "He's the ultimate consistent guy," the 22-year-old McDavid said of Crosby, 32. "He's been in the league for (15 seasons) now, and every year he has a great season. Their team's always in the playoffs. ... He's just so consistent." McDavid, who was the top overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, has recorded 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his encounters against Crosby.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Edmonton), AT&T SportsNet-Pittsburgh
ABOUT THE OILERS (9-4-1): Leon Draisaitl scored twice to highlight his second three-point performance during his four-game point streak (six goals, three assists) in Edmonton's 4-1 victory over Columbus. The 24-year-old has tallied five times in eight career meetings with Pittsburgh, including three to highlight his career-best 50-goal season in 2018-19. "We're all aware how good he is on the ice and how lethal he is with the puck," Oilers defensemen Oscar Klefbom told the Edmonton Sun of Draisaitl, who earned NHL Third Star of the Month honors for October. "... For me as a defenseman, it's good to practice against (Draisaitl and McDavid) every day just to get used to it because they're two of the best players in the world, if not the best."
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (8-5-0): Malkin, who is deemed a game-time decision for the matinee, was a full participant in a second consecutive practice on Friday and activated off injured reserve. "He looks good," coach Mike Sullivan said of the 33-year-old Russian. "He's participating in a full capacity. I think his conditioning is improving each day that he's practicing with us. It looks really encouraging." Malkin practiced on a line with left wing Alex Galchenyuk and right wing Patric Hornqvist while also working on the top power-play unit with Crosby, Jake Guentzel and defensemen Kris Letang and Justin Schultz.
1. Edmonton LW James Neal, who played in parts of four seasons with Pittsburgh, has scored eight of his 11 goals on the power play this season.
2. Penguins G Matt Murray has posted a 5-0-0 record with a 2.38 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in five meetings with the Oilers.
3. Edmonton recalled F Colby Cave from Bakersfield on Friday and also assigned D William Lagesson to the American Hockey League team.
PREDICTION: Oilers 5, Penguins 4