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Penguins go for 7, Game 30: Lines, Notes & What to Watch vs. Devils

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, vs. New Jersey Devils

The Pittsburgh Penguins (16-8-5) have won six in a row and narrowly survived a snoozer against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. The Penguins dominated the inferior Sabres but cooled to the task as the game progressed before winning in overtime. The Penguins will face a similar opponent with the bottom-feeding New Jersey Devils (10-14-5) at the Prudential Center Sunday at 7 p.m.

The Penguins six-game winning streak solidified their playoff standing. The Penguins have the seventh-best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference and are properly in the first wild-card spot.

On Friday, Evan Rodrigues continued his career explosion with another goal and nine shots. Jeff Carter took a penalty in the final seconds of regulation. The Penguins league-best PK killed the penalty, and Carter scored the GWG in OT. The Penguins won, 3-2. 

The Penguins did not hold a morning skate Sunday, and head coach Mike Sullivan will not confirm his starting goalie until he speaks at 5 p.m. It seems like a good night for Casey DeSmith to get a start, but we’ll update the story as Sullivan names a starter. DeSmith won his last two starts, including a 1-0 shutout over the Anaheim Ducks eight days ago.

Update: Head coach Mike Sullivan said Tristan Jarry will start and Brian Boyle will not play.

Evgeni Malkin removed the non-contact sweater on Saturday and skated with the team, though Sullivan cautioned that he wasn’t a full-go.

What to Watch:

Themes are becoming consistent for the Penguins. Evan Rodrigues likes to shoot the puck but is also playing very well. The stats are following suit, and we’ll see how he continues to play on the LW. His versatility will soon make Sullivan’s decisions interesting. We’ll have a story on that tomorrow, including why Rodrigues may be a better left-winger.

While Rodrigues is burning bulbs in the goal light on the left side of the Penguins top line, Kasperi Kapanen is still struggling to find any consistency on the right. Playing with Sidney Crosby and Rodrigues provides Kapanen with both an opportunity and hides Kapanen, too.

The Penguins second line with Jason Zucker and Jeff Carter also continues to limp through the season. Zucker has just 10 points in 29 games. Carter has 17 points but has been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for.

Can they, or when will they turn around? Opponents like the Devils are the perfect fodder to get on a roll.

It’s also a good time for the defensemen to get on their horse and join the rush more often. The defensemen have just six goals this season.

The Devils have a few players in COVID protocol, including P.K. Subban, Jesper Boqvist, and Ryan Graves.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Line

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 New Jersey Devils Lines, per PuckPedia.com

Zacha-Hughes-Tatar

Johnsson-Mercer-Studenick

Kuokkanen-Sherangovich-Vesey

McLeod-Bastian-?

Defense:

Smith-Hamilton

Seigenthaler-Severson

Geertsen-Baal

Goalie:

Gillies/Schmid

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

*Special Teams:

Penguins PP: 13-83, 15.7%, 28th NHL. PK: 5-71, 93% 1st NHL.

Devils PP: 10-80, 12.5%, 30th NHL. PK: 18-90, 80%, 14th NHL.

*The Penguins are 15-1 when scoring first.

*Sidney Crosby has been on a tear during the Penguins’ six-game winning streak, as he’s recorded multiple points in four of the six games and has a team-leading 10 points total (2G-8A) in those six games

*Teddy Blueger has five points (2G-3A) in his last five games against the Devils.

*The Penguins have allowed just eight goals in the last six games.

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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