The Pittsburgh Penguins (42-24-11) will try to sweep the season series with the Nashville Predators (43-28-6) at PPG Paints Arena, tonight. It is the second meeting in two weeks. The Penguins won in a shootout 2-1 last Thursday after Nashville tied the game up with three minutes left. Their eventual victory began the Penguins current three-game win streak.
The Penguins are in third place in the Metropolitan Division and despite moments of uncertainty this year, look locked and loaded for their 13th straight playoff season. After a road trip in which they earned seven of eight points, head coach Mike Sullivan feels good about his team and feels they are starting to play together. The Penguins will end the season with three of five games against teams below .500. The magic number is now “four.”
Nashville will have to catch soaring Winnipeg in the Central Division if they want to secure home ice in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Home ice would be key for a Nashville. They are 23-13-2 at Bridgestone Arena and their home venue has proven to be a stronghold the past two playoffs.
Matt Murray will start tonight for the Penguins. In the regular season, Murray is 3-0 in his career against Nashville. He has a 0.97 goals-against average and .968 save percentage with one shutout against the Predators. Pekka Rinne will oppose him for Nashville.
The Penguins didn’t squander a chance to further their playoff cause against an inferior New York on Monday in a 5-2 win. Despite a slow start to the game, the Penguins overcame an early first-period deficit to secure the win. After a Vinni Lettieri (1) goal made the score 2-0, the Penguins were quick to respond as Nick Bjugstad found the back of the net less than 30 seconds later. Bjugstad found a rebound and shuffled it on the net after falling to cut the lead to just one. The goal provided the Penguins with a spark heading into the first intermission.
The second period was all Penguins as they blitzed New York after tying the game up a minute in. The Penguins received scoring from some unlikely sources as Justin Schultz (2), Matt Cullen (6), and Teddy Blueger (5,6) all added goals. Blueger’s goal came shorthanded and helped the Penguins take a 4-2 lead before the period ended. The Latvian forward added a second goal in the third period and received praise from his coach afterward.
Matt Murray started for the Penguins and submitted another quality start. Murray stopped 33 of 35 shots to win his 27th game of the year. Alexandar Georgiev started for New York and made 31 saves. Georgiev lost his 13th game of the year.
Nashville clinched a playoff berth with a 1-0 win against Minnesota on Monday. Ryan Johanson (12) scored the only goal of the game 4:32 into the first period. Juuso Saros made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season. Devan Dubnyk stopped 18 of 19 shots, and despite the light workload was tagged with his 27th loss.
Tonight Jake Guentzel is set to skate in his 200th career NHL game. In his first 199 career games, Guentzel has recorded 152 points. Guentzel is also close to crossing off his first 40 goal season but still needs two goals.
Evgeni Malkin (Upper-body, Skating)
Kris Letang (Upper-body, Day-to-day)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term, skating)
Zach Aston Reese (Longer Term)
Zac Rinaldo (IR)
Miikka Salomaki (IR)
Kyle Turris (IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||(36 for 150) 24% 5th NHL||(119 for 154) 77.3% 25th NHL|
|Buffalo Sabres||(30 for 142) 21.1% 13th NHL||(106 for 137) 77.4% 24th NHL|
Penguins -135. Over/Under -6 -15
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Frederick Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Colton Sceviour|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mark Friedman||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|