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Penguins notebook: Team is chasing history at home

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins celebrate Matt Niskanen's winning goal against the Jets in the third period Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

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Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, 7:18 p.m.
 

The Penguins will have to wait for their shot at history.

Winners of 12 in a row at home — tied for their best-ever streak — the Penguins do not play again at Consol Energy Center until Jan. 15, against the Washington Capitals.

Their next three games are on the road. They open a Western Canada trip at Vancouver on Tuesday night.

A 6-5 victory over Winnipeg on Sunday pulled these Penguins even with the squad that set the standard for successive home wins last season.

The Penguins own a plus-23 goal differential on this 12-game winning streak. They were at plus-24 last season.

Coach Dan Bylsma's squad is 19-3-0 at home this season and has outscored opponents, 80-46.

Also waiting

Bylsma could make history of his own before the Penguins return from Western Canada.

He is now tied with Eddie Johnston for the most regular-season wins by a Penguins coach at 232.

The Penguins lead the NHL in regular-season wins since Bylsma was appointed coach on Feb. 15, 2009.

Also streaking

Captain Sidney Crosby's secondary assist on right winger James Neal's first goal in the second period extended his streak of consecutive home games with a point to 16 games.

He has eight goals and 25 points in those contests.

His 36 home points lead the NHL.

Crosby's personal-best mark is 19 consecutive home games with a point, from Oct. 9-Dec. 28, 2010.

Letang returns

Defenseman Kris Letang played over 24 minutes in his first game after missing 10 in a row because of an infected left elbow that required surgery.

Letang assisted on Neal's first goal against Winnipeg, one of four scored by the Penguins in the second period.

Letang was paired with Rob Scuderi. They previously had only played one full game together, against the New York Islanders on Oct. 25, because of respective absences due to injuries.

Scuderi was signed last July specifically to play with Letang.

Canada's call

Neal and left winger Chris Kunitz need not wait much longer to learn their Olympic fates.

Team Canada is scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday morning.

Coincidentally — because Hockey Canada moved its original date to finalize its men's ice hockey roster — the Penguins will play that night in Vancouver, site of the 2010 Olympic tournament which Crosby won with an overtime goal against the United States.

Crosby is expected to captain Canada in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Neal and Kunitz each are considered contenders to join him, though neither is a lock.

Kunitz recorded an assist against the Jets, and was tied for third among NHL scorers with 47 points before night games. He and Crosby each were tied for fourth with 23 goals.

Neal posted three points, including his 15th and 16th goals. He has 34 points in 24 games, a 1.42 per-game average that is second to Crosby's 1.47.

Around the boards

The Penguins have held opponents to 4 for 58 (6.9 percent) on the power play in 22 home games. … Jets winger Evander Kane, reportedly on the trade market, scored twice and recorded an assist against the Penguins, who have lost top-six winger Pascal Dupuis to a torn right ACL.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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