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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 1st (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (40-15-4) at Chicago Blackhawks (35-12-14), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The NHL couldn't have found a better venue for the first ever regular-season meeting between Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

Fresh of winning a gold medal together at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the two Canadians go head-to-head outdoors on Saturday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks and Soldier Field.

This marks the fifth of six outdoor games on the league's schedule this season and the fourth of the "Stadium Series." The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks will also play under the sky on Sunday afternoon in the Heritage Classic at BC Place.

Saturday night will mark the third outdoor game for the Penguins, who beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008 in the first regular-season outdoor game on U.S. soil. Pittsburgh lost 3-1 to the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in the 2011 Winter Classic.

"For a few of our guys, this is going to be the third time they've been able to play outdoors," noted Pens coach Dan Bylsma. "I think sometimes the elements are always a little bit different. But having said that, you can probably overcoach this game, and that's something I think I'll remember from the last one."

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, host their second outdoor game. They dropped a 6-4 decision to the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the 2009 Winter Classic.

Toews had an assist in that game, while Duncan Keith and Kris Versteeg were among the goal scorers for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane did not have a point.

Evgeni Malkin had a goal in the loss to the Capitals, while Marc-Andre Fleury picked up the setback after giving up three goals on 32 shots faced. He did have an assist on Malkin's tally.

Crosby did not have a point versus the Capitals, but notched an assist and the shootout winner versus the Sabres in 2008.

Crosby, the NHL's current season leader with 51 assists and 80 points, will make just his second career regular-season trip to Chicago. He last faced the Blackhawks as a rookie on Jan. 13, 2006.

Toews has four goals and an assist in five previous meetings with the Pens, including a hat trick on Feb. 27, 2009. He and Crosby are among several players in this game that won a gold medal with Team Canada at the recent Olympics. That list also includes Keith, Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz and Patrick Sharp of Chicago.

"It's kind of weird that it's taken this long," Crosby said of facing Toews. "I think I've been hurt for a few games, but I think just knowing that either we're going to go head-to-head or if not, I think that he's a guy who's pretty competitive.

"That whole group of guys that I've played with for the last few weeks are pretty competitive guys and have a lot of pride, so I'm sure they'll be up for this one. But yeah, going head-to-head against (Toews), I'm sure it'll be a good challenge."

Both the Pens and Blackhawks come into this meeting among the leaders in their respective conferences. Pittsburgh tops the East with 84 points, giving it a 15-point edge over the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division, while Chicago is even with St. Louis atop the Central Division.

The Blackhawks, also with 84 points, are five back of the Anaheim Ducks for the most in the West and overall NHL standings.

Chicago has lost two straight games and is 3-4-3 in its past 10 games. The Blackhawks came out of the Olympic break with a 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Thursday.

Peter Regin scored with just 11.6 seconds left to play and Corey Crawford posted 22 saves for the Blackhawks, who now try to get on track among the elements and against a top-notch team in Pittsburgh.

"I'd say it's a great test for us," noted 'Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "We're coming off a couple disappointing losses on the road. Finally be back and playing the home game and playing in this environment should make for a fun setting for everybody. There were some guys on the other team that definitely get your attention."

Crawford figures to get the start and it would be the second of his career versus the Pens. He made 24 saves in a 3-2 shootout win at home on Feb. 20, 2011.

Pittsburgh got a point in its first game following the Olympic hiatus, falling 6-5 in a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Crosby, James Neal, Olli Maatta and Brandon Sutter all had a goal and an assist, while Fleury stopped 24-of-29 shots faced before yielding the lone shootout tally.

Pittsburgh also lost in a shootout in its final game before the break and is 4-1-2 in its last seven. The Pens open a five-game road trip tonight.

Fleury is 4-1-2 with a 2.49 goals against average in his career versus the Blackhawks, who lost 3-2 in Pittsburgh in the most recent meeting between these teams on Dec. 20, 2011.

03/01 10:39:48 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
1st
CIN 9
NCCU 8
 
1st
WAS 7
ATL 13
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
GSW
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
DET
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
SAC
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
CHI
1st
UMO 7
OHIO 0
 
Final
ECU 58
FRES 52
Final
ELON 74
MRGST 73
 
Final
MIZZ 61
PURD 82
Final
MAR 55
HAW 62
Final
UNF 77
LIB 57
 
Final
CHAM 85
BYU 121
Final
BUCK 58
MDES 55
 
Final
UGST 85
WCU 70
 
2nd
UWGB 42
EVAN 38
 
1st
ARST 5
ALA 6
 
1st
OHIO 3
ARKPB 5
 
1st
UNH 7
BU 3
 
1st
OU 19
CHIST 17
 
1st
TOL 10
DET 7
 
1st
CLMB 1
FD 0
 
1st
QUIN 6
HART 10
 
1st
SFLA 8
HOF 6
 
1st
HARV 9
HOU 3
 
1st
BONA 16
JST 14
 
1st
STJOE 12
LIU 11
 
1st
SYR 6
GHND 0
 
1st
MLOWELL 19
MTIDA 12
 
1st
CIN 9
NCCU 8
 
1st
VT 7
NIOWA 11
 
1st
WOFF 8
OHVALLEY 15
 
1st
TEMPL 16
PENN 12
 
1st
RUTG 9
PETE 10
 
1st
BGU 10
SEMIZ 7
 
1st
LAS 9
Terriers 6
 
1st
UVA 19
TENST 5
 
1st
KENT 15
TXARL 7
 
1st
FSU 7
CITA 6
 
1st
PBY 12
TOCC 7
 
7:00pm Tonight
COOK
TENNM
 
1st
WMARY 22
WILL 12
 
1st
USB 13
WKENT 18
 
1st
HIGH 19
WMPEACE 10
 
7:30pm Tonight
PSU
AKR
7:30pm Tonight
SMU
ARK
7:30pm Tonight
ARMY
BING
 
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CSOU
CARK
 
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UMBC
HOW
 
7:30pm Tonight
ARZ
KYST
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OREG
VCU
8:00pm Tonight
SCST
CIU
 
8:00pm Tonight
CREI
EILL
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ALAAM
JVST
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
JCHR
 
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TXSA
LOYC
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NDST
MNCROOK
 
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NEB
NEOM
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VANDY
NORST
 
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STLU
NCAT
 
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MTST
NARZ
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TTU
NWST
 
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TULA
SOUTH
 
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ILLCH
STXAVIER
 
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TEX
RFLSH
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BRAD
TAMCC
 
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SMISS
TROY
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DRAK
IUPUI
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ARKST
LAM
 
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FLGC
USF
9:00pm Tonight
COL
AFA
9:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
BSU
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
BUF
 
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ORU
LALAF
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CHAR
MIAMI
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
MD
9:30pm Tonight
UMO
NW
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
PITT
10:00pm Tonight
MICH
VILL
10:05pm Tonight
SACST
BRISTOL
 
11:00pm Tonight
USC
CSFU
11:00pm Tonight
STAN
DEL
1st
CLB 1
WIN 1
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
LOS
8:00pm Tonight
STL
OTT
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
EDM
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
COL
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CAL
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
NJD