PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will put their five-game winning streak on the line when they play host to the Boston Bruins tonight at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins, Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have been locked in a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference through much of the first half of the season.
Two points separate the three teams entering tonight’s game, where a win would move the Penguins into a tie with Montreal.
Boston has played the fewest number of games in the league so far, but they are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators Monday night.
Goals could be hard to come by for the Penguins tonight as the Bruins have allowed the fewest (50) in the league.
Patrice Bergeron currently leads the team with 21 points, but David Krejci and Brad Marchand each have 20.
Marchand also leads the team with 12 goals this season.
While the Bruins are playing sound team defense, Tuukka Rask has been a major factor in the team’s success thus far.
Rask is 13-2-3 with a 1.96 GAA and a .927 save percentage so far since assuming the starting role after Tim Thomas elected to not play this season. Thomas has since been traded to the New York Islanders, but still has not suited up this season.
Rask is 1-2 with a 2.69 GAA and a .913 save percentage against the Penguins.
It remains to be seen if Rask will start on back-to-back nights, but if he doesn’t, the Bruins have a young capable backup as well.
Anton Khudobin is 4-1 with a 2.42 GAA and a .910 save percentage in five starts this season. Khudobin has not played against the Penguins in his brief NHL career.
For Pittsburgh, they will be without the services of Evgeni Malkin again tonight. Malkin continues to recover from an upper-body injury he suffered against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
The duo of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz more than rose to the occasion in Malkin’s absence on Sunday against the Islanders.
Crosby had five assists, while Kunitz recorded his second hat trick of the season in addition to setting up two other goals in a 6-1 win.
Crosby has now opened up an eight-point lead on Steven Stamkos in the NHL scoring race. Meanwhile, Kunitz has quietly crept up the leaderboard and sits just one point behind Stamkos entering play tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury (12-5-0, 2.71 GAA, .902 save percentage) has allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts. Granted, he hasn’t been on the hook for all of them, but the last time he had allowed more than three was a 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Jan. 29.
Against the Bruins, Fleury is 9-5-2 with a 2.20 GAA and a .930 save percentage with two shutouts.
According to the Penguins’ official website, Pittsburgh has won their previous three meetings against the Bruins.
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m. and you can watch the game on Root Sports or NBC Sports Network.