Penguins vs. Lightning, Game 61: Lines, Notes & How to Watch
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three consecutive games for the first time since running off seven in a row during the first half of December.
They appear to be as healthy as they’ve been in a quite a while, and should be gaining some confidence from how they’ve rebounded after a blowout loss to Edmonton a week ago.
All of that positivity figures to be severely tested when the Penguins face Tampa Bay tonight at 7:08 at Amalie Arena.
That’s partly because the Penguins have two lopsided victories over the Lightning in 2022-23, including a 7-3 decision at PPG Paints Arena Sunday, which means Tampa Bay should not be lacking for motivation in their final meeting of the regular season.
And then there is Tampa Bay’s roster, which looks a lot like the one that has gone to each of the past three Stanley Cup finals, winning two of them. When a team is built around the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos, it has the potential to overwhelm, even embarrass, almost any opponent.
The Lightning have a solid hold on an Eastern Conference playoff berth and are challenging Toronto for second place in the Atlantic Division, but have sputtered lately, going 2-3-2 in their past seven games.
Nonetheless, they have the fourth-most prolific offense in the NHL, averaging 3.52 goals per game, in part because their power play scores on about one of every four of its opportunities.
Tampa Bay has fared well against the Penguins with the man-advantage this season, converting two of seven chances, but the Penguins’ power play has been even better, going 3-for-9 against the Lightning.
Both teams have made personnel moves since their game Sunday — the Penguins traded Teddy Blueger and added Mikael Granlund, while Tampa Bay picked up Tanner Jeannot from Nashville and Michael Eyssimont from San Jose — but the most significant change in the game tonight might be in goal for the Lightning.
Backup Brian Elliott started their two previous games against the Penguins, probably because Tampa Bay had played on the previous night both times, and stopped just 68 of 80 shots.
Tonight, the Penguins are expected to face Vasilevskiy, who has a career record of 14-9-5, with a .910 save percentage and 3.08 goals-against average, against them.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Penguins power play: 44 for 206, 21.4%, 13th (tie)
Penguins penalty-kill: 38 for 191, 80.1%, 15th
Lightning power play: 53 for 207, 25.6%, 2nd (tie)
Lightning penalty-kill: 35 for 188, 81.4%, 12th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Evgeni Malkin has 27 goals and 33 assists in 43 career games against the Lightning.
The Penguins have won their past two games in Tampa and are 4-1-1 in their past six overall against the Lightning.
Kris Letang has at least one point in each of his past six games against Tampa Bay.
Sidney Crosby has two goals and three assists against the Lightning in 2022-23, running his career totals versus them to 22 goals and 39 assists in 45 games.
Tampa Bay is 22-5-3 at Amalie Arena, and had earned at least one point in 16 consecutive games there before a 4-1 loss to Florida Tuesday.
Lightning winger Tanner Jeannot, acquired from Nashville Sunday, ranks fourth in the NHL, with 216 hits.
Tampa Bay defenseman Ian Cole, a member of the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017, does not have a goal in his past 32 games.
Lightning winger Corey Perry, who spent most of his career in Anaheim, has 13 goals in 23 career games against the Penguins, although he has failed to get one in five meetings with Tristan Jarry.
Former Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman has a minus-4 plus-minus rating against the Penguins in the two games this season.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X