Both teams are banged up heading into the first of two meetings this week, but the Bruins may have center David Krejci back in the lineup Tuesday night against the visiting Penguins, who will be missing three-fifths of their top power-play unit.
Pittsburgh (12-5-0) won 11 of its first 13 behind captain Sidney Crosby's nine goals and seven assists, but the Stanley Cup champions began to lose some key pieces along the way.
The Penguins went into the season knowing they'd be without forward Max Talbot, who scored both goals in June's Cup-clinching Game 7 in Detroit, for at least six weeks, but other significant names have gone down as well.
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar could miss another month with a broken wrist suffered last month and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin is still likely a few games away from returning from a strained right shoulder.
Forward Tyler Kennedy has missed four of the past five games with a groin injury and it's unclear when he'll return, and defenseman Kris Letang suffered a shoulder injury at San Jose in Saturday's 5-0 loss, Pittsburgh's second straight on the road after starting 7-0-0.
"Sure, we have injuries and it's there as an excuse if you want to take it," forward Matt Cooke said. "But if we want to win hockey games we have to face adversity and find a way to win 1-0 if we have to. You have to adjust, work harder and work smarter."
Gonchar, Letang and Malkin are integral parts of the power play, which hasn't converted in 21 chances over the past five games and is 3 for 36 since Gonchar was hurt.
Nearly 40 percent of Crosby's 103 points last season came with the man advantage, and with the power play suddenly coming up empty, Pittsburgh's captain has gone four games without a point for the first time in his career.
Boston (7-7-2) has also been plagued by injuries that have played a role in its slow start following a 116-point season. Center Marc Savard will be out another two to four weeks with a broken foot suffered in mid-October, and left wing Milan Lucic is still likely a week away from returning from a broken finger that's sidelined him for 10 games.
There's some good news, though. Krejci, the Bruins' second-leading scorer behind Savard with 73 points last season, returned to practice Monday for the first time since being diagnosed with swine flu last week and will likely play against the Penguins.
Krejci doesn't have a point with the man advantage this season after collecting 19 in 2008-09 -- he has five total in 14 games -- but Boston's struggling power-play unit finally broke out Saturday. A miserable 2 for 42 over the past 13 games, the Bruins got power-play goals from Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara in the first period of a 4-2 win over Buffalo.
"That's what we've been telling them -- to relax," coach Claude Julien said. "Eventually you're going to score goals. You know if you stick with it, it's going to turn."
Chara's goal was his first after he scored 19 last season. The Bruins had scored four goals in going 1-3-1 in their previous five.
Boston, which visits Mellon Arena on Saturday, went 2-1-1 against the Penguins last season, getting a goal and three assists from Krejci.