Penguins vs. Wild, Game 79: Lines, Starting Goalies & How to Watch
The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins sat out the Stanley Cup playoffs, Sidney Crosby was an 18-year-old rookie, George W. Bush was in the midst of his second term as president and “Gone With the Wind” was filling theaters across the country.
OK, maybe not that last part, but you get the idea.
It’s been a long, long time.
Since the spring of 2006, to be precise.
That’s 16 fingers and toes, for those of us who are mathematically challenged.
Back then, Michel Therrien was in his first few months as coach, Craig Patrick was in his final weeks as general manager and team officials were trying to come up with a way to get a promising young center, Evgeni Malkin, out of Russia.
So, yeah, a while ago.
Four U.S. presidents, three Stanley Cup championships and countless indelible memories later, the Penguins are in very real peril of sitting out the postseason again.
Their game against Minnesota tonight at 7:08 at PPG Paints Arena might not quite be of the “must-win” variety, since losing to the Wild would not eliminate the Penguins from contention for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
A loss would, however, further shrink their chances of qualifying, regardless of how the teams they are chasing — Florida and the New York Islanders — fare in their games this evening.
The Wild have a lot at stake this evening, too.
Much like New Jersey, which was chasing Carolina for first place in the Metropolitan Division when it stomped the Penguins, 5-1, Tuesday, Minnesota is trying to win a division title.
It is tied with Colorado and Dallas for the top spot in the Central Division, although the Avalanche have a game in hand on the other two.
One lucky break for the Penguins: Minnesota will be without its brilliant young forward, Kirill Kaprizov, who has a team-leading 74 points despite missing the past 12 games because of an injury. He is expected to rejoin the Wild lineup Saturday.
Unlike the Penguins, who have alternated losses and victories for the past nine games, Minnesota has been accumulating points on a regular basis of late, going 5-1-2 in its past eight games.
The Wild have, however, had trouble with the Penguins in recent years.
The Penguins are 7-0-1 in their past eight games overall against them and 6-1-1 in their past eight versus Minnesota at PPG Paints Arena.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Minnesota Wild Lines
Penguins power play: 58 for 275, 21.1%,
Penguins penalty-kill: 53 for 249, 78.7%,
Wild power play: 51 for 235, 21.7%,
Wild penalty-kill: 45 for 241, 81.3%,
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Sidney Crosby has just three points in his past six games. He still needs three points to become the 15th player in NHL history to reach 1,500 in his career.
Kris Letang has a point in each of his past six games against Minnesota.
The Penguins have six 20-goal scorers — Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, Rickard Rakell and Evgeni Malkin — to tie Ottawa and Dallas for the league lead in that category.
Josh Archibald has recorded two of his career three three-point games against the Wild.
Malkin has 10 goals and 12 assists in 17 career games against the Wild.
The Wild are 30-7-4 when getting the first goal of the game and 30-0-3 when leading at the second intermission.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, Filip Gustavsson, was the Penguins’ second-round draft pick in 2016. They sent him to Ottawa in the Derick Brassard trade in 2018.
Minnesota has allowed a league-low two shorthanded goals.
The Wild have been in 13 shootouts, winning seven.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X
Per DraftKings, the puck line for the Penguins is -1.5 (+195) and +1.5 (-230) for Minnesota.
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