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‘A Lot of Guys are P*ssed Off,’ Penguins vs. Carolina: Lines, Notes & Preview

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes game

The Pittsburgh Penguins (35-15-9) have played the Carolina Hurricanes (40-12-5) twice in the past few weeks. On a boxing scorecard, the teams have evenly split the six periods 3-3, but the Carolina Hurricanes won both games 4-3. The Penguins are 0-1-1 in the games and are precariously eight points behind them in the Metro Division.

The puck drops near 1:25 p.m.

Carolina has one game in hand because they squeaked by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, 3-1. Carolina scored an empty-net goal as Philadelphia exerted heavy pressure in the third to secure the two points.

The substantial lead atop the Metro Division means the Penguins can lollygag through this part of the season no longer. Lose on Sunday, and the Penguins’ chances at the Metro Division are toast. A 10-point deficit with 21 games to go is impossible, barring a complete Carolina collapse.

However, the Penguins players have different motivations for Sunday.

I think the game is important, but not only for that point in the standings, we want to battle that team because they’re the top team, and they’re a good measuring stick for us,” Letang said. “They’ve been good for the last few years. They’ve been the dangerous team. Their work ethic is probably the best. You just want to go into the game and have a good impression of yourself and bring a tough challenge…For me, it’s just getting to focus on playing that team because they’re the best.”

The Penguins looking up at someone in the Metro. It’s a new world. The quote of the day came from Zach Aston-Reese.

“It’s almost like college when you get to redeem yourselves against the same opponent…It would be nice to improve the record to 1-1-1, be in that rubber. They’re a potential playoff matchup,” Aston-Reese said. “I think a lot of guys are pissed off about the results we’ve had against them. We’re excited to get another opportunity to win.”

The teams have been even, but Carolina has been just a bit better at finishing chances and has made fewer mistakes. The Penguins’ disastrous start in the first meeting spotted Carolina an early 2-0 lead. In the second meeting, the Penguins could not hold a 2-0 lead, and Kris Letang’s undisciplined penalty in OT delivered set up another Carolina win.

One matchup to watch: Sidney Crosby vs. Sebastian Aho. The Hurricanes’ top center has been able to win the battles against Crosby, which is especially problematic for the current Penguins. Crosby’s line accounts for about 40% of the Penguins’ offense.

Brock McGinn is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury. On Saturday, the Penguins recalled Radim Zohorna and sent Valtteri Puustinen back to WBS. Kasperi Kapanen played LW at practice on Saturday, and Zohorna is a LW. The move likely opens the spot for Kapanen to flip to the right side with Jeff Carter on the third line.

Tristan Jarry will (most likely) start for the Penguins in net. Frederick Andersen beat Philadelphia on Saturday, so the Penguins will likely see Antti Raanta for the third time.

UPDATE: Marcus Pettersson is scratched. Brian Dumoulin slotted in the second pair, as head coach Mike Sullivan chose to go with Mike Matheson and Kris Letang on the top pair.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Rickard RakellEvgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jason ZuckerJeff CarterDanton Heinen
Brock McGinnTeddy BluegerEvan Rodrigues
LDRD
Mike MathesonKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Mark FriedmanChad Ruhwedel
Goalie
Tristan Jarry
Louis Domingue

Expected Carolina Hurricanes Lines, per PuckPedia.com:

Teravainen-Aho-Necas

Svechnikov-Trocheck-Martinhook

Niederreiter-Staal-Fast

Lorentz-Kotmaniemi-Stepan

Defense:

Slavin-Bear

Skjei-Pesce

Cole-Chatfield

Goalie:

Antti Raanta

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

*Carolina has the fourth-best power play in the league (25.3%) and the best PK (89.1%). The Penguins PK has slipped to fourth (85.2%), and the power play is 14th (21.8%).

*Jason Zucker is the only Penguins player on IR. After being scratched on Friday night due to a non-COVID illness, Brian Dumoulin was a partial participant at practice.

*Sidney Crosby (877) is one assist shy from tying Nicklas Lidstrom (878) for 22nd place on the NHL’s all-time assist list.

*Kris Letang (50 PTS in 55 GP) required the fewest games to reach the 50-point mark in a season by a Penguins defenseman since Sergei Zubov (46 GP) in 1995-96.

*Jeff Carter has points in back-to-back games (1-2-3).

*Evan Rodrigues (17) has the fourth-most goals by an undrafted player this season behind Jonathan Marchessault (24), Mats Zuccarello (19), and Tanner Jeannot (18)

How to Watch:

TV: AT&T SportsNet; Radio: 105.9 The X

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Ted Vantroba
Ted Vantroba
2 months ago

Dan, you have Matheson out of the lineup, do you know something we don’t?

Ronald Chess
Ronald Chess
2 months ago

Dan where’s Matheson

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