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Game On! DeSmith in Net, Penguins Lines, Preview vs. Rangers

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The Pittsburgh Penguins (30-21-7) need to adopt an “every game counts” mentality, beginning now. There are 25 games left on the Penguins schedule and with their playoff hopes still murky, the margin for error is thin. The Penguins face the New York Rangers (25-24-8) at PPG Paints Arena this afternoon and hope the day game atmosphere yields better results than yesterday.

The Penguins trail Carolina by one point for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference, but have one game in hand. A win today will not only put the Penguins back in the playoffs but tie them for third in the Metropolitan Division. No permanent damage has happened yet, but the Penguins should be sweating that their long streak of play appearances is in jeopardy.

The Penguins will start Casey DeSmith despite using him in the third period, Saturday. DeSmith with be opposed by Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish goalie is 29-24-11 against the Penguins with a 2.60 goals against and .911 save percentage.

Despite playing one of their best third periods of the year yesterday, the Penguins lost to Calgary 5-4.  The Penguins overcame an early one-goal deficit to tie the game on Jake Guentzel’s (28) deflection and entered the first intermission with confidence. Unfortunately, the Penguins played a lackluster second period, and Calgary ambushed them with four-goals. The only bright spot was a Sidney Crosby goal from an impossible angle that helped Phil Kessel his 800th career point.

DeSmith replaced Matt Murray to start the third period in hopes to spark the team. The Penguins showed some heart in third and used two Evgeni Malkin (15,16) PP strikes to pull closer but could not get the final goal to tie it up.

Matt Murray started the game and surrendered five goals on 24 shots. Casey DeSmith saved all seven shots in relief and almost earned the win. The Penguins effort overshadowed the return of Justin Schultz, who played in his first game since October. Schultz had one assist.

You can read more in Dan’s Recap and the PHN Extra Report Card.

New York is out of the playoff hunt but played very well in a win against the Buffalo Sabres 6-2, Friday. Vladislav Namestnikov led the offensive outburst with three points (2g, 1a).  Alexandar Georgiev started for New York and stopped 31 of 33 shots. Georgiev won his ninth game of the year.

Sidney Crosby is three goals from tying Jaromir Jagr for second place on the team’s all-time goal-scoring list with 439. Mario Lemieux holds the top spot for franchise goals with 690 goals.

Injuries

Penguins

Olli Maatta ( Upper-Body. IR)

Rangers

Fredrik Claesson (shoulder)

Brett Howden (MCL sprain)

Brady Skjei (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)

Expected 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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