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Murray Keeps the Net, Penguins Game Notes & Lines vs. Tampa Bay

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Penguins game

Just four days after taking down the top team in the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins turn their focus to snapping a four-game road losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena, Thursday. Earlier this season, the Penguins lost 3-2 in Tampa Bay as Victor Hedman scored in the final minute of play. The Penguins came close however to tying the game in the final few seconds, but after a video review, it was determined that the puck did not cross the goal line.

The game marks a matchup of arguably the two hottest teams in the NHL as the Penguins are 19-5-1 in its last 25 games dating back to December 4. Their 19 wins during that span are second-most in the NHL behind the Lightning (20).

Tampa Bay will start their big Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in net against the Penguins. The Penguins will start Matt Murray for Thursday’s game. Murray has not lost a game since the Christmas break, going 6-0-0 with a 2.63 GAA and .922 SV% in his last six starts

The Penguins survived a late push by Washington in a 4-3 win, Sunday. The game marked the first time the teams met this year and proved to live up to the billing of a slugfest between two top Eastern Conference teams. Washington, playing on their home ice, struck first in the game. At the midpoint of the first period, Richard Panik made a nice cross-ice pass to Lars Eller, who fired a shot top-shelf. The goal was the first of a two-goal performance by Eller, but the lead proved shortlived. Sam Lafferty tied the game 1:45 later with a heatseeker from the left circle. The Penguins broke the tie less than a minute later when Patric Hornqvist found twine on a deflection.

Leading by one to start the second period, the Penguins and Washington exchanged blows of the physical and metaphorically nature but it was the away team that tallied the only goal of the frame. Dominik Simon (7) corraled the puck down low and backhanded it under the goalie’s pads to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead in the 2nd. The Penguins, with the oxymoronic “worst lead in hockey” saw Washington claw their way back. Six minutes into the third, Evgeny Kuznetsov (18) cut the lead to just one to apply some pressure, but a late response by Brandon Tanev proved to be the game-winner. Tanev’s shot went off the defender’s stick and floats into the net with mere minutes to seemingly ice the game. Washington did prove one last scare with Eller tallying his second with less than three minutes left.

Matt Murray started in net and performed better than the story his stat line weaved. Murray ended the game with 29 saves including several late blasts from Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to uphold the lead. Washington started rookie Ilya Samsonov in net, Samsonov stopped 29 of 33 shots in just third loss in 21 appearances. You can read more about the Penguins showdown in DC in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.

Tampa Bay battled with Vegas for two periods but eventually outlasted them for two points in a 4-2 win, Tuesday. Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat each had two points to lead the charge for Tampa Bay. On the other side, Brayden McNabb tallied two assists including one on Paul Stastny’s 16th goal of the year. Andrei Vasilevskiy outdueled Marc-Andre Fleury for the win by making 27 saves. Fleury stopped 14 of 17 shots in the loss.

Notes

With an assist on a first-period goal in Sunday Penguins game, John Marino became the seventh rookie defenseman in Penguins history to record 20 or more assists. Marino’s 24 points (4G-20A) also puts him at seventh all-time among Penguins rookie defenseman, and he has managed to do this through just 50 games. On the season, Marino currently sits at eighth on the Penguins scoring list with his 24 points, and second among Penguin defenseman behind only Kris Letang (33).

Penguins First-round (21st overall) pick Sam Poulin of the Sherbrooke Phoenix was named the QMJHL’s Forward of the Month for January. In January, Poulin recorded 22 points (10G-12A) and a plus-15 in 12 games. Over his past five games, Poulin has tallied 19 points (10G-9A) in five straight multi-point games which included two hat tricks and three game-winning goals.

Injuries

Pittsburgh Penguins

Nick Bjugstad (Core Muscle)

Brian Dumoulin (Ankle, IR)

Dominik Kahun (Concussion)

Tampa Bay Lightning

Jan Rutta (Lower Body, Week to Week)

Special Teams

TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins20.3% (16th NHL)82.4% (7th NHL)
New Jersey Devils17.7% (22nd NHL)82.0% (10th NHL)

Penguins Lines

Expected Penguins Lines

LWCRW
Jason ZuckerSidney CrosbyConor Sheary
Patrick MarleauEvgeni MalkinBryan Rust
Evan RodriguesJared McCannPatric Hornqvist
Brandon TanevTeddy BluegerSam Lafferty
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz
Goalie
Matt Murray
Tristan Jarry

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