Series (Game 1 of 4)

Pittsburgh leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 21st
Game 2: Tuesday, January 5th
Game 3: Saturday, April 3rd
Game 4: Saturday, April 10th

Penguins 3

(15-8-0, 30 pts)

Jets 2

(10-7-2, 22 pts)

7:00 PM ET, November 21, 2009

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 T
PIT 1 2 03
WPG 0 0 22

M. Fleury (Penguins - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .939

M. Skoula (Penguins - D): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

S. Crosby (Penguins - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Penguins-Thrashers Preview


The Atlanta Thrashers had to settle for one point their last time out, but lately they've been doing an impressive job of collecting wins.

They can't claim the same success recently against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Thrashers have won four of their last five games to move up the Southeast Division standings, but they'll be trying to snap a five-game slide against the Penguins on Saturday night at Philips Arena.

Atlanta (10-6-2) has one of hockey's most consistent offensive attacks, scoring 3.61 goals per game to rank among the league's top three.

The Thrashers haven't scored fewer than three goals since Oct. 10, and scored 18 during a four-game winning streak from Nov. 8-15.

It looked like their streak of three-goal games might come to an end Thursday against Boston as the Bruins led 3-2 with under a minute to play, but Maxim Afinogenov scored with 41.4 seconds left to send the game to overtime. After five scoreless minutes, Patrice Bergeron scored the only goal of the shootout to give Boston a 4-3 win.

"We did get a point. We battled back," defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "It's not the outcome we wanted, but we got a point out of it. That's kind of a positive."

It was the Thrashers' seventh consecutive loss to the Bruins, and they'll be looking to snap a similar drought against the Penguins (14-8-0).

Pittsburgh has outscored Atlanta 21-10 in winning the last five games, including a four-game sweep last season behind four goals and nine assists from Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin missed seven games with a strained right shoulder before returning last Saturday against Boston, and the Penguins, who had scored 12 goals in the time he missed, netted 11 in home wins over the Bruins and Anaheim.

Malkin scored his first goal since Oct. 20 late in the third period Thursday against Ottawa, but it hardly made a difference. The Senators had scored four times earlier in the third, chasing Marc-Andre Fleury en route to a 6-2 win.

Despite Pittsburgh's loss, it welcome two players back Thursday. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar returned from a broken wrist that sidelined him for 12 games, and forward Max Talbot, who scored both goals in the Penguins' 2-1 Game 7 win in Detroit to clinch the Stanley Cup, played for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery.

"It was our first game for Max in a long, long time and he brought his energy and he was effective, he was effective in the offensive zone and I liked that," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Sergei, we asked him to play a lot of minutes tonight. It's tough for him to get back in there but definitely our power play's a bit more dangerous with him out there."

Malkin's goal Thursday came on the power play, the second straight game the Penguins -- still without four of their top five defensemen -- scored with the man advantage.

The power play was 4 for 51 (7.8 percent) in the 12 games Gonchar missed, but perhaps Pittsburgh can get it going versus Atlanta. The Penguins were 8 for 20 (40.0 percent) with the man advantage last season against the Thrashers, with Malkin collecting a point on seven of those goals.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who has four goals and seven assists in four games for the Thrashers since returning from a foot injury, has three goals and two assists in his last 10 games versus Pittsburgh.