The records don’t matter. The Pittsburgh Penguins final regular season of the game is about one point. If the Penguins gain a point, they clinch third place and face the New York Rangers in the Metro Division playoffs. If they lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena, the Washington Capitals have a chance to snatch third place with a regulation win, relegating the Penguins to the second wild card and the Atlantic Division playoffs.
The Florida Panthers await the second wild card. Should the Penguins get to Round Two, they would face one of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, or two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
“What’s important to our team are two things–we want to finish in the best possible position that gives us the best chance to be successful moving forward. And we want to try to gain some traction with respect to our own team game,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “So we feel good about our game going into the playoffs regardless of our first-round opponent.”
To that end, Casey DeSmith, not backup Louis Domingue, will start. Take that as you will.
The Penguins are 4-5-1 in their last 10 but are just 3-7-0 in their last 10 against playoff opponents.
The Columbus Blue Jackets (36-37-9) are not a playoff team but have some talent. Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand lead the team with 26 goals each. Former Philadelphia Flyer Jakub Voracek leads the team with 59 points, including 54 assists.
Sullivan said goalie Tristan Jarry has begun rehab. but team doctors were still evaluating Jason Zucker for a lower-body injury. Sullivan did not have an update.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Rickard Rakell|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Radim Zohorna||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Drew O'Connor||Ryan Poehling||Drake Caggiula|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|Ty Smith||Jan Rutta|
Expected Columbus Blue Jackets Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
INJURIES: D Nathan Beaulieu, lower-body (18 consecutive, 18 total). G Tristan Jarry, lower-body (5 consecutive, 5 total). 2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 275
*The Penguins are 14-3-1 in its last 18 games versus Columbus, dating back to February 3, 2017.
*The Penguins have won 10-straight games against the Blue Jackets here at PPG Paints Arena dating back to Dec. 21, 2015
*The Penguins have scored three or more goals in 12 of their last 15 games against the Blue Jackets, while nine of those 15 games have been four-plus goal efforts.
*The Penguins have won their final home game for five-straight years. Since the 2005-06 season, the Penguins are 13-1-1 in the final home games of the regular season.
*Sidney Crosby has been held off the scoresheet just seven times in his career against the Blue Jackets, picking up 43 points (13G-30A) in 33 games.
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The Penguins play well in their final home game. They also play well and score goals against Columbus.
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