The Pittsburgh Penguins revisit the site of their fifth Stanley Cup as they battle the Western Conference power Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena, tonight. Both teams are desperate but for different reasons. Nashville is trying to catch the first-place Winnipeg in the Central Division and finish third in the Western Conference. Third place would guarantee home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs for Nashville.
Nashville is 23-13-1 at home.
After a torrid start to March, the Penguins are again cleaning up issues after three straight losses and blowing late leads in the previous two games. After building a small cushion, the Penguins have a team catching them once again. Carolina holds two games in hand on the Penguins and is only two points behind them for third in the Metropolitan Division.
The Penguins have a five-point lead on Columbus for the second wildcard but want to avoid failing to a wildcard spot in fear of a first-round matchup against Tampa Bay.
Matt Murray will be in the net. Murray has three-straight shutouts against the Predators, dating back to the Game 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. His current shutout sequence against Nashville is 206:26 minutes. Pekka Rinne starts for Nashville but has lost 11 of his 15 matchup against the Penguins. Rinne is 26-18-3 on the year with a 2.46 goals against on the year.
The Penguins failed to close out the Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-2 SO loss, Tuesday. After a scoreless first period, Carolina opened the scoring in the second period when Brock McGinn (9) was left uncovered in the slot. McGinn received a pass from Justin Faulk in the slot and ripped a shot bottom right corner to ignite the home crowd. The lead was short lived however as Jake Guentzel (37) tied the game up just 38 seconds later. Guentzel continued his break out season with a slap shot goal from the high slot after Sidney Crosby dug out a puck in the corner to set him up.
Both teams came out in the third period with purpose, and the score remained tied until the 4:38 mark of the third period. Kris Letang (16), in his first game back from injury, joined a three on two rush and finished a Bryan Rust pass to give his team the lead. The Penguins looked to ice the game when Carolina pulled their goalie, but could not land the final blow. Justin Williams (22) found a rebound with the extra attacker and scored to tie the game at two. This was the second time in the past two games the Penguins could not prevent the tying goal with less than two minutes remaining.
In overtime, the Penguins were forced to kill two penalties and could not generate any offense to score the game winner. Dougie Hamilton score the only goal in the shootout to give his team the extra point. Matt Murray started for the Penguins and saved 37 of 39 shots while Carolina’s Petr Mrazek saved 36 shot and stop all three shooters in the shootout.
Nashville shutout Toronto 3-0, Tuesday. Deadline acquisition Wayne Simmonds (17) scored his first goal as Predator in the win. Pekka Rinne saved 22 shots for his fourth shutout of the year. Fredrick Andersen started for Toronto and saved 17 of 19 shots.
Heading into Wednesday night’s games, Pittsburgh’s 126 goals on the road rank second in the league. The Penguins’ goal differential on the road ranks second in the league at plus-22, behind only the Lightning. The Penguins power play is ranked first in the league on the road, converting at 33.0%. Pittsburgh has six power-play goals in its last five road games, converting at 42.9%.
Olli Maatta (Upper-Body, IR)
Chad Ruhwedel (Long term)
Zach Aston Reese (Long Term)
Zac Rinaldo (IR)
Miikka Salomaki (IR)
Kyle Turris (IR)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||12.5% (12th NHL)||80.0% (9th NHL)|
|New York Islanders||20.0% (8th NHL)||87.5% (4th NHL)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jared McCann||Sidney Crosby||Jake Guentzel|
|Bryan Rust||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Dominik Simon||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Matt Cullen||Garrett Wilson|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|