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Sidney Crosby, Penguins Set To Visit Stars

(Sports Network) - While the Penguins learned earlier this week that one of their young stars won't be making his expected return to the lineup anytime soon, they might still be getting some healthy bodies back in time for tonight's game versus the Stars.

Both forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Zbynek Michalek should return to action on Wednesday when Pittsburgh tries for a sixth straight victory over Dallas.

Young center Jordan Staal has yet to play a game this season due to a foot infection stemming from a lacerated tendon suffered in last year's playoffs, but was nearing a return to the lineup before suffering a broken right hand in practice on Monday. The ailment could sideline Staal for another six weeks.

The news isn't all bad for the Penguins though as both Malkin and Michalek could return tonight. Malkin missed Saturday's 3-0 victory over the Hurricanes due to a bruised knee, while Michalek hasn't played since Oct. 11 due to a shoulder issue.

Alex Goligoski (undisclosed) and Kris Letang (hand/wrist) are both questionable to return tonight as well.

Pittsburgh didn't miss Malkin's offense on Saturday, getting a pair of goals from Pascal Dupuis and one from Maxime Talbot. Brent Johnson made 33 saves for his 14th career shutout and first since April 1, 2006 as the Penguins halted a three-game losing streak in the opener of a four-game road trip.

"I think our desperation level was a lot higher, and we did a lot of little things," forward Sidney Crosby told Pittsburgh's website. "We were strong on one-on-one battles and we executed well. Every little detail you can look at we were strong in. When you pay attention to those things you get good results."

One area Crosby and company will look to improve is the power play, where the Pens are 0-for-22 in their last five games.

Johnson, expected to be the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury, improved to 5-0-1 with a 1.16 goals-against average in six starts this year. Fleury, meanwhile, is just 1-5-0 with a 3.35 GAA and .863 save percentage in his six starts.

It is unknown who will start in net tonight, but if head coach Dan Bylsma is looking to get Fleury on track, he has the right opponent lined up. Fleury has won all four of his career starts versus the Stars with a 1.96 GAA. Johnson is 2-3-0 with a tie and a 2.46 GAA versus them lifetime.

Crosby, who had two assists on Saturday, notched a pair of goals and an assist in last year's 6-3 home win over the Stars in the only meeting between the teams. It was Pittsburgh's fifth straight win in the series and it hasn't lost to Dallas since a 3-1 road setback on March 2, 2003.

Crosby has four goals and three assists in three career games versus the Stars.

Dallas also snapped a three-game skid last time out and improved to 1-3-0 on a six-game homestand at American Airlines Center with Saturday's 4-0 blanking of Buffalo.

Kari Lehtonen had started the Stars' first nine games, but was pulled early in last Thursday's loss to the Kings. Andrew Raycroft came on in relief and then made his first start in a Dallas uniform over the weekend, halting 34 shots for his eighth career shutout.

"It's terrific that [Raycroft] played as well as he did," Dallas head coach Marc Crawford told his team's website. "He had real good focus. He's a pro, and he knows how to get himself prepared. We also played a solid game in front of him."

Though Raycroft has yet to allow a goal in 75 minutes of action and 42 shots faced, Lehtonen is slated to get the start tonight. He is 6-3-2 with a 2.84 GAA when facing the Penguins.

James Neal and Brenden Morrow both scored power-play goals versus the Sabres, Steve Ott notched a short-handed tally and Trevor Daley also scored.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.