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Penguins’ (Preseason) Game 5: Personnel Combos, Notes, Who to Watch Against Red Wings

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, Detroit Red Wings

CRANBERRY — The competition for the final few spots on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Opening Night roster is winding down, and a few of those positions could be locked up when they face Detroit tonight at 7:38 at Little Caesars Arena.

The best guess is that the left side on the No. 3 defense pairing and one or two of the wings on the fourth line might still be available, although Mike Sullivan said after the game-day skate that he could not put a precise figure on the number of openings.

“I don’t know that I can answer that,” he said. “We’re trying to do our very best to field the best team in all of the respective positions. (People) can look at our roster and make reasonable assessments on where you think the challenges are for us.”

Not everyone will get a chance to show what they can do against the Red Wings, however.

Sullivan said Tristan Jarry is ill and will not travel to Detroit; Filip Lindberg will be Casey DeSmith’s goaltending partner.

Also, forward Sam Poulin and defensemen Mark Friedman, P.O Joseph and Chad Ruhwedel stayed on the ice for extra work after the game-day skate, suggesting that they will not be in the lineup.

What to Watch

*** The aforementioned competition for the final few spots on the Opening Night roster figures to be front and center, with just one exhibition game remaining (Friday against Buffalo).

*** The Penguins’ special teams have been anything but during most of their first four preseason games. There’s an obvious risk in reading too much into anything that happens — or doesn’t happen — in exhibition games, but the Penguins’ confidence surely would benefit from scoring a power play goal or two and having a perfect night on the penalty-kill.

*** This will be the Penguins’ second game featuring a veteran-heavy lineup, so lines and pairings, as well as the special-teams units, will be trying to get back in synch. “It’s just about getting the rhythm back, getting in the flow of the game,” Jason Zucker said. “We have to take these games seriously. We only have two left.”

Personnel Combinations

Here are the forward lines, defense pairings and special-teams units the Penguins used at their game-day skate:

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen — Radim Zohorna — Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn — Ryan Poehling — Josh Archibald/Sam Poulin

Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson — Jeff Petry
Ty Smith — Jan Rutta
Mark Friedman/P.O Joseph — Chad Ruhwedel

Power play No. 1: Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, Rust
Power play No. 2: Petry, Smith, Zucker, Heinen, Rakell

Penalty-killers: Poehling-Kapanen, McGinn-Archibald

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

*** The Red Wings defeated the Penguins, 6-2, in a preseason game at PPG Paints Arena last Tuesday. The Penguins, who failed to score on nine power plays, dressed a veteran-heavy lineup, while Detroit’s consisted primarily of prospects.

*** The Penguins have won their past three regular-season games in Detroit, outscoring the Red Wings, 14-6, in those contests.

*** The Penguins have scored just seven goals in their first four preseason games.

*** Sidney Crosby recorded six shots and three hits and won 11 of 19 faceoffs against Detroit last Tuesday, his only appearance so far in this preseason.

*** Brock McGinn and Bryan Rust scored the Penguins’ goals in that exhibition game against the Red Wings.

How to Watch:

TV: NHL Network.

Radio: 105.9 the X.

The Penguins will not stream the game on their website.

Injury Update

Injured forwards Teddy Blueger, Jeff Carter and Jonathan Gruden and defenseman Taylor Fedun worked out on the ice with skills coach Ty Hennes before the game-day skate.

It is believed to have been the first time Blueger has skated since he was hurt. The Penguins have not specified the nature of any of the injuries.

Carter subsequently took part in the game-day skate, wearing a no-contact jersey. Sullivan said that taking contact is the last hurdle he’ll have to clear before rejoining the lineup.

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