The Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-11) will defend third place in the Metro Division against the storm surging Carolina Hurricanes (43-28-7) at PPG Paints Arena, this afternoon. The game will play a significant role in deciding the Metropolitan Division seeding and who will draw a wild-card position which could mean a Round One series with the Washington Capitals or worse, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The teams are separated by just two points.
The Penguins hold the lead in the all-time series with a 78-64-11 record. The Penguins continue to be on the precipice of clinching a 13th straight playoff appearance but have met stiff resistance. Despite a 6-2-2 record in their last ten games, their opposition has been winning, too. The Penguins will most likely need to win out and receive help if they are to win the Metro, but a win today would only put them two points behind second-place New York.
Behind them, the threat remains from Columbus and Carolina, which are both just two points back.
Carolina continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 season. They are embroiled in a three-way battle for the two wild-cards with Columbus and Montreal. They can finish strong with two of their last four games against teams below .500, but still have to play the Penguins tonight and Toronto on Tuesday. Carolina has not made the playoff since 2009.
The Penguins missed a chance to keep pace with the surging teams in their division with a 3-1 loss to Nashville, Friday. Craig Smith (20) redirected a shot by Matt Irwin from the point just 1:35 into the game. The goal gave Nashville an early lead and seemed to set the pace for the rest of the game. Despite mounting several offensive pushes, the Penguins could not answer the goal in the first period and went to the first intermission down by one.
The second period followed the same script as the first for the Penguins. They sustained offensive pressure and carried play for the majority of the period, but once again came away empty handed. Nashville scored the only goal of the period when Victor Arvidsson (32) scored his 100th NHL goal. Arvidsson scorched a wrister from the right faceoff circle on the power play to give his team a 2-0 advantage.
PK Subban (8) iced the game in the third period with a slap shot from the blueline which sneaked past goalie Matt Murray. The goal sent the home crowd for the exits with just two minutes remaining in the game, but those who stayed saw a Penguins goal. Nick Bjugstad (13) took a feed behind the net and stuffed it in to break the shutout.
Murray made 23 saves but was overshadowed by Nashville’s Pekka Rinne who was sharp and stopped 42 of 43 shots.
Carolina won last night against Philadelphia 5-2. Carolina forwards Brock McGinn and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. James van Riemsdyk tallied two assists for Philadelphia, which was eliminated from playoff contention. Petr Mrazek started for Carolina and made 30 saves. Cam Talbot stopped 27 of 30 shots in the loss for Philadelphia.
Patric Hornqvist is having a down year statistically, but there are signs he might break his slump soon. Hornqvist has 17 goals and 16 assists on the year.
Evgeni Malkin (Upper-body, Skating)
Kris Letang (Upper-body, Day-to-day)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term, skating)
Zach Aston Reese (Longer Term)
Man-Games Lost Due to Injury: 123
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
Penguins -150 Over/Under 6, -15
Expected 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|