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Rematch; Penguins Game 73 vs. Blue Jackets: Lines, Notes & How to Watch

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, Columbus Blue Jackets

Surely, Vladimir and Natalia Malkin will be in Columbus on Saturday night to watch the second half of a home-and-home set between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Blue Jackets, eh?

Evgeni Malkin’s parents seemed to serve as a good luck charm and motivation for their son Thursday. He scored twice – both times on the power play, no less – as the Penguins (32-30-10) won 3-2 over the Columbus (23-38-12).

That gave the Penguins points in three straight games (2-0-1).

Game Time

The game starts a little after 7 p.m.

Penguins Preview

Is it good form to keep listing how far out the Penguins are from a playoff spot? It’s seven points with 10 games left. Buffalo leapfrogged them Friday, meaning the Penguins would need to move past five teams ahead of them to qualify for the playoffs.

In the meantime, the Penguins will be going for a sweep in the two games against the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Not only did Malkin awaken, but Sidney Crosby also has been red hot. He had two assists Thursday, giving him nine points over the past three games for a team-leading 78 points in 72 games. He needs four points to clinch a point-per-game pace for the season, tying that Wayne Gretzky dude for 19 such seasons.

For the rematch, the Penguins will be without defenseman Ryan Graves, who left Thursday’s game and has been diagnosed with a concussion. Look for a young, physical third pairing of John Ludvig and Jack St. Ivany.

Will goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic get a fourth straight start over Tristan Jarry?

Read more:

Molinari: Let’s Get Physical: These Two Defensemen Like to Hit

Kingerski: Evgeni Malkin Family Still Makes a Big Difference

The Blue Jackets hung in with the Penguins fairly well Thursday after a team meeting that morning to address dealing with adversity.

Still, Columbus has lost six straight (0-5-1) and is 2-8-2 over the past dozen games as the team deals with several physical injuries and the emotional one of being eliminated from playoff contention.

Former Penguins forward Alex Nylander has missed the past two games because of an unspecified injury (although illness also has been cited). He looks likely to return.

Expected Penguins Lines

Drew O’Connor-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen

Jesse Puljujarvi-Sam Poulin-Jeff Carter

Defense

P.O Joseph-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson

John Ludvig-Jack St. Ivany

Goalies

Alex Nedeljkovic

Tristan Jarry

Expected Blue Jackets Lines

Johnny Gaudreau-Boone Jenner-Alex Nylander

Alexandre Texier-Cole Sillinger-Kirill Marchenko

Mikael Pythia-Dmitri Voronkov-Mathieu Olivier

James Malatesta-Brendan Gaunce-Carson Meyer

Defense

Damon Severson-Zach Werenski

Jake Bean-Ivan Provorov

Jake Christiansen-Erik Gudbranson

Goalies

Elvis Merzlikins

Daniil Tarasov

Penguins Special Teams

Penguins power play: 14.9%, 30th

Penguins penalty kill: 81.1%, 12th

Blue Jackets power play: 14.9%, 31st

Blue Jackets penalty kill: 76.1%, 26th

Penguins Game Notes

This is the third game of a stretch of six in a row for the Penguins against fellow Metropolitan Division teams. They are 2-0-1.

The Penguins are 11-0-1 in their past 12 games against the Blue Jackets, with a 49-27 scoring margin.

The game starts a four-game road stretch.

Evgeni Malkin eclipsed 20 goals on Thursday, making him the fourth active player, 14th in NHL history with 15 20-goal seasons.

The Penguins are 385-87-45 when both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby record a point.

Sidney Crosby has moved into sole possession of 11th place all-time in the NHL with 1,580 points. He is also five assists shy of 1,000.

Crosby is two points shy of his 13th season with at least 80 points. Only Wayne Gretzky, with 17, has more.

Lars Eller is two points shy of 400 for his career.

How to Watch

TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh

Radio: 105.9 FM The X

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Pete
Pete
13 days ago

Lets Go Pens!