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Biggest of the Big; Penguins Game 79 vs. Red Wings: Lines, Notes & How to Watch



Pittsburgh Penguins game, Detroit Red Wings

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of Thursday’s game. Let’s set the stage:

The Pittsburgh Penguins (36-30-12) and the visiting Detroit Red Wings (38-32-8) each have 84 points with four regular-season games left, and they sit one point behind the Washington Capitals, who hold the second Eastern Conference wildcard spot, and three points behind the New York Islanders, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

Third in the Metro and that second wildcard are the only two remaining playoff spots left in the East.

Talk about an intense situation.

Game Time

The game starts a little after 7 p.m.

Penguins Preview

The Penguins are 6-0-3 in their past nine games to get to this spot, but they took themselves out of being in control of their destiny when they came away with just one point Monday in a 2-1 overtime loss at Toronto.

While the Penguins and Red Wings are duking things out in such an important showdown, Washington will be playing at Buffalo, which has been eliminated from playoff consideration.

Philadelphia, which is one point behind the Penguins and Detroit, plays Thursday against the New York Rangers, but the Flyers have played one more game than the Penguins and Detroit and are in full freefall.

It would seem logical that the Penguins will once again turn to Alex Nedeljkovic over Tristan Jarry. Nedeljkovic has started in goal for every game during this point streak.

Third-line center Lars Ellis missed practice Wednesday because of illness. If he is not able to play, Radim Zohorna, who was recalled Wednesday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, could be in the lineup.

Read more:

Molinari: Can Nedeljkovic Continue to Withstand Stresses of His Job?

Anderson: NHL Players Vote Sidney Crosby Complete Honor

Detroit lost to Washington 2-1 in regulation Tuesday, setting up tonight’s scenario.

The Red Wings have lost two of their past three games.

They will be without forward Andrew Copp, who sustained a broken cheekbone in Tuesday’s game. That should put former Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese into the lineup after he was recalled from Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

Alex Lyon is expected to start in goal.

Expected Penguins Lines

Drew O’Connor-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen

Jesse Puljujarvi-Jeff Carter-Emil Bemstrom


P.O Joseph-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea-Jack St. Ivany


Alex Nedejkovic

Tristan Jarry

Expected Red Wings Lines

Alex DeBrincat-Dylan Larkin-Lucas Raymond

David Perron-J.T. Compher-Patrick Kane

Robby Fabbri-Joe Veleno-Daniel Sprong

Zach Aston-Reese/Austin Czarnik-Christian Fischer


Ben Chiarot-Moritz Seider

Simon Edvinsson-Jeff Petry

Olli Maatta-Shayne Gostisbehere


Alex Lyon

James Reimer

Penguins Special Teams

Penguins power play: 14.3%, 31st

Penguins penalty kill: 80.7%, 11th

Red Wings power play: 22.9%, 9th

Red Wings penalty kill: 79.7%, 14th

Penguins Game Notes

The Penguins lost at home to Detroit 6-3 Oct. 18 and won by the same score at home March 17.

In their past 12 home games against the Red Wings, the Penguins are 8-2-2, including 6-0-2 by a scoring margin of 41-17 since Jan. 13, 2018.

Overall, the Penguins are 8-3-1 in their past 12 home games.

Sidney Crosby has 1,588 career points, two shy of tying Phil Esposito for 10th overall in NHL history. He is also two assists shy of becoming the 14th player all-time to notch 1,000.

Kris Letang is one point shy of reaching 50 for the seventh time in his career.

Evgeni Malkin has 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 29 career games against the Red Wings.

Sidney Crosby has 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 34 career games against Detroit.

Overall, Crosby has 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) during the Penguins’ nine-game point streak.

How to Watch

TV: SportsNet Pittsburgh

Radio: 105.9 FM The X

Also visit sister site Detroit Hockey Now