he Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins vie for their fourth straight victory and 18th in 21 contests when they visit the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Edmonton Oilers on Friday. Pittsburgh opened its three-game trek through Western Canada with a 5-4 shootout triumph over Vancouver on Tuesday. Captain Sidney Crosby returned to the scene of his 2010 Olympic gold-medal game heroics by scoring late in regulation before netting the lone goal of the bonus format.
Crosby drilled the Oilers in the teams' first meeting, setting up all three goals in the Penguins' 3-2 victory on Oct. 15. While Pittsburgh is surging, Edmonton is trending in the wrong direction as it suffered its 11th loss in 14 outings (3-9-2) with a 5-2 setback to St. Louis on Tuesday. Nail Yakupov scored his third goal in four contests in the loss.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), TSN (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (32-12-1): While Crosby is riding a six-game point streak, fellow former Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin has collected three goals and an assist in two contests since returning from a nine-game absence due to a leg injury. Malkin scored the game-winning goal in the teams' previous meeting and has recorded six points in four career contests versus Edmonton. Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves against the Oilers in October but has yielded nine goals in his last two games.
ABOUT THE OILERS (14-27-5): With a sputtering offense scoring two or fewer goals in three of the last four games, coach Dallas Eakins tested Sam Gagner at right wing in Thursday's practice. As a result, rookie Mark Arcobello saw time on the team's second line at center with Jordan Eberle and Yakupov. "I'm used to it," Arcobello said of the changes. "I've played up and down the lineup. Whatever opportunity I'm given, it's not going to be a new one for me."
1. Arcobello scored against the Blues, marking his first time he found the net since Edmonton's 8-2 rout versus Colorado on Dec. 5.
2. Pittsburgh has killed off all 16 short-handed situations in its last six games.
3. Edmonton assigned D Brad Hunt to Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League, potentially opening the door for D Corey Potter to return from a groin injury.
PREDICTION: Penguins 5, Oilers 2