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Pens try to stay hot at home against Lightning

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to continue their recent success at home when they welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning for today's clash at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins are 18-8-2 as the host this year and have won seven of their last eight tilts in the Steel City. Pittsburgh began its current three-game homestand with an impressive victory, as it shut out the Eastern Conference- leading New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves to help the Penguins blank the Rangers, 2-0. Despite that victory, Pittsburgh is still nine points in back of New York for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Pens are also tied with Philadelphia for the fifth seed in the East and trail New Jersey by one point for the fourth spot. Pittsburgh and the Flyers are also just one point in front of seventh-seeded Ottawa.

Fleury had six saves in the first period, 12 in the second and stopped nine shots in the third for his third shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.

Evgeni Malkin and Steve Sullivan scored for the Penguins, who have won two of three and four of their last six games overall.

"That was our first complete game, first 60-minute game in a long time," said Sullivan. "One of our better games this year."

With captain and superstar forward Sidney Crosby still sidelined indefinitely with his head and neck injuries, Malkin has fueled Pittsburgh offense for much of this season. The Russian forward has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) over his last nine games and he is tied for the NHL lead this season with 73 points (33g, 40a). Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos also has 73 points on 43 goals and 30 assists.

Although Crosby has returned to practice for Pittsburgh, there is still no word on when could return to game action. Crosby's concussion issues began last January and he has played in just eight games since, all of which came this season.

In other injury news for the Pens, defensemen Brooks Orpik (upper body), Matt Niskanen (illness) and backup goaltender Brent Johnson (illness) are all questionable for today's game.

Meanwhile, the Lightning, who are playing also playing without injured captain Vincent Lecavalier, will try to rebound from a loss to Winnipeg in the opener of a three-game road trip. Tampa Bay has struggled as the visiting team all season long, going 9-18-4 on the road compared to an 18-9-2 mark at home.

The Bolts were dealt a 4-3 regulation loss by the Jets on Thursday after going 3-1 on a recent four-game homestand. Andrew Ladd scored and added a pair of assists to lift Winnipeg to the victory at MTS Centre.

Stamkos and Teddy Purcell each had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Martin St. Louis also scored for the Lightning. Mathieu Garon was torched for all four goals on 18 shots and Dwayne Roloson stopped all 16 shots he faced in relief.

"I guess we are allergic to this place," Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of Winnipeg, where Tampa Bay has been outscored, 9-5, this season. "We have had our worst two games of the year here."

After today's contest, Tampa Bay will complete its three-game road trip with another matinee tomorrow in New Jersey.

This afternoon's test marks the fourth and final scheduled meeting of the season between the Pens and Bolts. Pittsburgh has taken the last two encounters and has won four of six overall in the series. Tampa has lost three straight and five of its last six games in the Steel City.