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Game On! Expected Penguins Lines, Preview vs Coyotes

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The Pittsburgh Penguins (25-15-6) trade the beaches of California for the desert of Arizona as they play the Arizona Coyotes (21-22-3) coached by former Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet at Gila River Arena tonight. Not long ago, the Penguins were gobbling up points to thrust themselves into a tie atop the Metropolitan Division, but now look to rebound from two straight losses and are in the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The playoff picture continues to be jumbled as the first and eighth spot is separated by only eight points. The Penguins are only three points back of the Metropolitan leading Columbus Blue Jackets and just two points from regaining the third spot from the New York Islanders. The Penguins have a chance to rack up wins with three of the next five games coming against teams with losing records.

Patric Hornqvist was a full participant at practice yesterday. He could play tonight. And we may see the return of the Malkin-Kessel pairing.

Head coach Mike Sullivan will speak at 8 p.m. and we could know more then.

The Penguins projected starter in goal is Matt Murray, which would deny fans the chance to see Murray vs. Fleury for the first time this season. The Coyotes are projected to counter with Darcy Kuemper.

Tuesday, the Penguins dropped their second straight game. They were roasted by the San Jose Sharks, 5-2. Forward Tomas Hertl (17,18,19) led the five-goal San Jose outburst with a hat trick. The Penguins scored first on a jaw-dropping coast-to-coast goal by Kris Letang (11), but San Jose didn’t blink. Marcus Sorensen (9) scored for San Jose less than two minutes later and San Jose scored the next four goals.

San Jose netminder Martin Jones won his eighth straight game. Jones allowed two goals on 24 shots and despite a light workload, made some huge saves when tested. Murray stopped 24 of 28 shots. He allowed four goals in his second straight start and it was his first loss in 10 games. Derick Brassard (8) scored a goal towards the end of regulation, which was his fifth point in the last 10 games. Joe Thornton (10) played in his 1,000th game as a San Jose Shark and netted the game-winning goal in the second period.

Tuesday’s loss was the first time the Penguins lost two straight games since December 1st. The Penguins are still 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Arizona fared better than the Penguins against San Jose with a 6-3 victory, Wednesday. Arizona exploded for six goals to wash away the taste of a six-goal loss to Calgary on Sunday. Lawson Crouse (7) and Richard Panik (10) scored in the first period to set the tone early for Arizona.

Kuemper started for Arizona and stopped 26 shots to collect his ninth win of the season. Christian Fischer and Lawson Crouse each had a goal and an assist for Arizona.

Kris Letang is one goal away from tying Paul Coffey in goals by a Penguins defenseman (108). When Letang accomplishes this milestone he will own the franchise records for games played, goals, assists, and points by a defenseman in the regular season and playoffs. Letang also tied Paul Coffey for the franchise lead in All-Star game appearances for Penguins defenders this year when he was voted to his fifth game via ” The Last Man in” competition.

 

Injuries

Penguins

Justin Schultz (Fractured Leg. IR)

Patric Hornqvist (Concussion. Skating)

Zach Aston-Reese (IR)

Coyotes

Antti Raanta ( Lower Body. IR)

Brad Richardson ( Upper Body. IR)

Kevin Connauton ( Lower Body, Day-to-day)

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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