Vancouver (29-16-0) at Pittsburgh (21-22-5)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Feb 4, 2003
  • TV: ROOT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

PITTSBURGH (TICKER) —Star center Mario Lemieux is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Vancouver Canucks.

Lemieux has played less than four minutes since suffering a groin injury on January 7 in a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders, missing 11 of the last 12 games.

The Penguins’ captain, who was voted a starter for Sunday’s All-Star Game but could not play, leads the league in scoring with 68 points.

Pittsburgh, which enters the final 30-game stretch of the season four points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, fell to 1-4-1 in its last six contests with a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals last Thursday.

Defenseman Michal Roszival scored just his third goal of the season and rookie Sebastien Caron stopped 26 shots for the Penguins, who have lost three of their past four home games. They are 3-5-1-1 against Western Conference foes.

Pittsburgh’s second-leading scorer, Alexei Kovalev, started for the East on Sunday and was held scoreless. Kovalev has been the subject of trade rumors, since the Penguins are not in a financial position to sign him.

Vancouver squandered a two-goal first-period lead before skating to a 3-3 tie with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Trevor Linden, Henrik Sedin and Todd Bertuzzi each scored and Dan Cloutier made 29 saves.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who was sidelined 13 games with a broken left heel, returned to action for the Canucks on Thursday. Jovanovski scored in Sunday’s All-Star Game for the Western Conference and Markus Naslund earned an assist. Bertuzzi also made the squad but did not pick up a point.

Naslund is second in the league with 65 points and first with 35 goals for Vancouver, which leads the Northwest Division by five points over Edmonton but has just one win in its last five games (1-2-2-0).

The Canucks went 2-0 against Pittsburgh last season to win the series for the first time since 1989-90. The Penguins are 33-9-7 against the Canucks on home ice but have not beaten them at Mellon Arena since a 3-0 triumph on February 14, 2000.

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