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Pittsburgh, WBS shuffle players

The Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday recalled forwards Michel Ouellet and Matt Hussey from their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton AHL affiliate, and assigned defenseman Rob Scuderi and forwards Rico Fata and Konstantin Koltsov to the Baby Penguins.

Ouellet, who has played 176 consecutive games for Wilkes-Barre, the second-longest active streak in the AHL, could make his NHL debut as early as tonight when Pittsburgh battles the Washington Capitals. The 2005 AHL All-Star is the Penguins’ leading scorer with 29 points (10g, 19a) in 17 games, including a current 12-game scoring streak.

The 23-year-old Ouellet scored at least 30 goals in each of the last two seasons.

Hussey, 26, has recorded nine goals and 10 assists for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. In his fourth pro season in the Pittsburgh organization, Hussey made his NHL debut with the Penguins in 2003-04, picking up two goals and an assist in three games.

“Looking at our situation and looking at the inconsistency and the start that we had, we feel that we can be and should be better than we are,” Pittsburgh head coach Eddie Olczyk told PittsburghPenguins.com. “[General manager] Craig [Patrick] and the [coaching] staff, we sat down and talked about it and felt the players we’re bringing up in Matt Hussey and Michel Ouellet are going to be guys who add a little bit of a different dimension that we don’t have right now.”

Pittsburgh has struggled to a 6-9-6 record to start the year, and sits last in the NHL’s Atlantic Division.

Rob Scuderi recorded 20 points in 79 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, meanwhile, has been the cream of the crop in the AHL in 2005-06, posting a record of 16-0-1-0 and earning 33 of a possible 34 points in the standings.

Defenseman Ryan Whitney and forward Erik Christensen were recalled by Pittsburgh earlier in the year and made an immediate impact, sticking with the big club for the last 10 games. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has also seen time in both leagues this season.

Scuderi, 26, had played most of the previous four seasons in Wilkes-Barre, totaling eight goals and 72 assists in 292 AHL games. He is scoreless in 10 contests with Pittsburgh this season.

Koltsov, 24, spent the entire 2003-04 NHL season in Pittsburgh before rejoining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for its run to the Calder Cup Finals. His biggest goal was the overtime winner in Game 7 of the Penguins’ first-round series with Bridgeport that spring. Koltsov had one assist in 20 games for Pittsburgh this season.

Fata, 25, was a Calder Cup champion with Saint John in 2001 and an AHL All-Star for Hartford in 2002. In 216 career AHL games, Fata, the sixth overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, has totaled 87 goals 94 assists for 181 points. He is scoreless in 20 games with Pittsburgh in 2005-06.