Penguins vs. Predators, Game 75: Lines, Starting Goalies & How to Watch
The Pittsburgh Penguins could be out of the Eastern Conference playoff field again by the end of the evening.
Oh, and their next chance to pick up points after they face Nashville tonight at 7:08 at PPG Paints Arena will be Saturday afternoon, when Boston — yeah, that Boston, the one on pace to finish with 63 victories and 132 points — comes to town.
Suffice to say, getting a victory in Detroit, where the Red Wings are still going through a lengthy rebuild, two nights ago likely would have been a lot easier than trying to beat the Bruins figures to be.
One thing the Penguins might have working for them in a couple of days, though, is a real sense of desperation. The kind rooted in being in true danger of sitting out the playoffs.
The Penguins actually could find themselves there tonight, if they don’t earn at least one point against the Predators, because Florida’s 3-2 overtime victory in Toronto Wednesday night lifted the Panthers to within one point of the Penguins, who hold the second wild-card spot in the East.
That’s because the Panthers, who pulled out of a four-game losing streak by beating the Maple Leafs, will continue a road trip in Montreal this evening. A Florida victory there, coupled with a Penguins loss to Nashville in regulation, would hoist the Panthers one point ahead of the Penguins.
(Florida, by the way, is 8-2 in its past 10 games against the Canadiens, and scored 22 goals in the past three.)
Perhaps knowing all of that will prompt the Penguins to return to the focused, structured game they were playing a week ago.
Anything less — and the Penguins have proven to be capable of quite a bit less on numerous occasions this season — might not be enough to get them past the Predators.
Nashville is in a desperate playoff battle itself — the Predators trail Winnipeg, which holds the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference, by three points, but have two games-in-hand — and generally plays the kind of solid game expected of a team led by John Hynes, whose resume includes a stint in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Predators score an average of just 2.75 goals per game — Matt Duchene, with 22, is their only player to score more than 20 — but are stingy defensively, and goalie Juuse Saros is capable of stealing a victory for his team. Which he did Tuesday, stopping 35 shots in a 2-1 victory in Boston.
The Penguins saw just how competitive Nashville can be Feb. 28, when they needed goals by Sidney Crosby, Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust in the final nine minutes of regulation to pull out a 3-1 win at Bridgestone Arena.
That was, at the time, an extremely uplifting and important victory for the Penguins.
Getting one this evening would be even bigger.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected Nashville Predators Lines
Penguins power play: 56 for 257, 21.8%, 13th in NHL
Penguins penalty-kill: 50 for 234, 78.6%, 17th in NHL (tied)
Predators power play: 39 for 224, 17.4%, 27th in NHL
Predators penalty-kill: 45 for 246, 81.7%, 11th in NHL
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins have five 25-goal scorers — Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker and Rickard Rakell — for the first time since 2011-12. Buffalo is the only other NHL club with that many in 2022-23.
Malkin has at least one point in each of the past nine home games.
Crosby has been held without a point in consecutive games for the second time in six games.
Guentzel has nine goals in his past 12 games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been outscored, 90-78, in the third period this season.
Former Predators forward Mikael Granlund has one goal and two assists in 13 games since being acquired from Nashville as the NHL trade deadline approached.
Defenseman Roman Josi, who has scored five game-winning goals, is the only Nashville player with more than three. Josi has missed the past six games because of injury.
Nashville’s record on the road (19-14-4) is virtually identical to its mark at Bridgestone Arena (18-4-4).
Ex-Penguins forward Mark Jankowski has five goals and three assists in 41 games with the Predators.
Nashville has scored the first goal in all but 10 of its 37 victories.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportNet
Radio: 105.9 the X