A pair of Atlantic Division rivals will meet for the first time this season when they Pittsburgh Penguins host the New Jersey Devils in a matinee at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins and Devils split six meetings in 2011-12, but Pittsburgh will try to extend its winning streak in this series to three games on Saturday afternoon. New Jersey also has struggled in the Steel City in recent years, losing five of the last six encounters in Pittsburgh.
Three of Pittsburgh's four wins this season have come against divisional opponents. All told, the Pens are 3-1-0 versus the Atlantic this season with their only loss coming earlier this week against the New York Islanders.
The Penguins rebounded from Tuesday's 4-1 home loss to the Islanders by blanking the New York Rangers in Thursday's meeting at Madison Square Garden. The 3-0 victory over the Blueshirts gave Pittsburgh wins in two of its last three games and extended the Pens' winning streak against the Rangers to six games.
Evgeni Malkin and Simon Despres each had a goal and an assist to back a solid performance from Tomas Vokoun between the pipes. Vokoun turned aside all 28 shots he faced to notch his 49th career shutout, while James Neal added a power-play goal to the winning effort.
"I thought we played very well throughout the whole game," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. "We had a 60-minute game and played well away from the puck. This was a good road win."
The Pens are expected to start No. 1 netminder Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday. Fleury has been hot-and-cold so far this season, yielding nine goals over two of his starts and a total of two scores in the other two. Fleury is 14-18-4 with a 2.59 goals against average in 36 career starts against the Devils.
On Thursday, Pittsburgh picked up forward Zach Boychuk off waivers from Carolina. Boychuk was a first-round pick (14th overall) by Carolina in 2008, but has only managed seven goals and 18 points over 73 NHL games. Boychuk is expected to play Saturday and skate on a line with Malkin and Neal.
"For me to jump into a game (Saturday) is the best way to do it," Boychuk told the Penguins' official website. "I don't want to be waiting and getting anxious. I want to get right into it. Getting to play with Malkin and Neal is pretty exciting. Hopefully, I can show my stuff and help the team."
Pittsburgh is still after its first home win of the season after losing both of its games as the host in regulation.
The Devils have earned a point in every game this season, but the club is on a three-game slide following its third straight loss after regulation.
Since beginning the season on a three-game winning streak, New Jersey has lost two games in overtime and another in the shootout. Most recently, the Devils were dealt Thursday's 5-4 overtime loss against the visiting Islanders. Brad Boyes scored 2:01 into extra session to lift New York to the win.
After killing off 29 seconds of a New Jersey power play to start overtime, New York was awarded a man advantage when Henrik Tallinder was called for cross checking.
On the winning goal, Martin Brodeur tried to play the puck behind the right side of his net, but flubbed the clear and John Tavares grabbed it along the boards. He brought it out front and got a shot on net that was stopped. A mad scramble ensued with Brodeur out of position and a Devil defender guarding the net, but Boyes was able to jam it in for the win.
Tallinder, Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter all scored for the Devils. Henrique, who was playing in his first game of the season following thumb surgery, tied the game at 4-4 with 6:10 left in the third period.
"It's a character game because we've had a couple of these comeback games here," said Carter. "Next time we just have to find a way to get the win."
Brodeur gave up all five goals on 35 shots in the loss.
Saturday's test marks the start of a two-game swing for the Devils, who are 1-0-2 on the road this season.
Devils defenseman Mark Fayne missed Thursday's game against the Isles with an arm injury and is questionable for Saturday.