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Penguins Game 77 vs. Lightning: Lines, Notes & How to Watch



Pittsburgh Penguins game vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Things have really been falling into place for the Pittsburgh Penguins, both with their late-season surge and with beneficial results involving other teams in the same chase for playoff spots.

The Penguins (35-30-11) now face the Tampa Bay Lightning (43-26-7), who visit PPG Paints Arena for Saturday afternoon national TV matinee.

The Lightning, although idle Friday night, qualified for the playoffs by virtue of other results.

Game Time

The game starts a little after 1 p.m.

Penguins Preview

The Penguins are on a 5-0-2 point streak and have won three games in a row following Thursday’s 4-1 win at Washington. With six teams in the Eastern Conference having clinched a spot in the playoffs, there are just two remaining slots open.

The Penguins are one point behind Detroit and Washington, and two points behind the wilting Philadelphia Flyers (who are in the second wildcard spot) and the New York Islanders (who are in third in the Metro). Buffalo is two points behind the Penguins.

Pretty tight quarters.

It would seem unlikely that the Penguins would alter their lineup at this point, although winger Jansen Harkins seems close to returning from the IL.

Alex Nedeljkovic has started every game in goal during the seven-game point streak, and it would seem prudent and logical that he will go again Saturday, with Tristan Jarry watching.

Read more:

Molinari: Penguins’ Optimism Soaring; ‘We’re Right in This Thing’

Kingerski: The Four Big Reasons for Penguins Turnaround

Even though Tampa Bay has clinched a playoff spot, there is more to do than just prepare for the playoffs.

The Lightning hold the first Eastern Conference wildcard spot but could still move up. They are just two points behind third-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division, and the Maple Leafs have a game in hand.

Tampa Bay has been on an incredible tear, having won two in a row, five of six. Over the past 12 games, the Lightning are 10-1-1.

They are coming off a 7-4 win at Montreal on Thursday.

The Lightning boast the leading scorer in the NHL, Nikita Kucherov, who has 133 points.

Penguins Expected Lines

Drew O’Connor-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting-Evgeni Malkin-Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith-Lars Eller-Emil Bemstrom

Jesse Puljujarvi-Jeff Carter-Valtteri Puustinen


P.O Joseph-Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson-Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea-Jack St. Ivany


Alex Nedeljkovic

Tristan Jarry

Lightning Expected Lines

Anthony Duclair-Brayden Point-Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel-Anthony Cirelli-Steven Stamkos

Michael Eyssimont-Nicholas Paul-Mitchell Chaffee

Austin Watson-Luke Glendening-Tyler Motte


Victor Hedman-Darren Raddysh

Calvin de Haan-Erik Cernak

Emil Lilleberg-Matt Dumba


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Matt Tomkins

Penguins Special Teams

Penguins power play: 14.7%, 31st

Penguins penalty kill: 81.5%, 10th

Lightning power play: 29.1%, 1st

Lightning penalty kill: 83.0%, 5th

Game Notes

The Penguins won 4-2 in Tampa on Nov. 30 and lost 3-1 in Tampa on Dec. 6. This will be the rubber match as well as the only game in Pittsburgh between the teams this season.

The Penguins are 5-1-0 in their past six games against the Lightning.

Alex Nedeljkovic is one game shy of tying the longest point streak of his career, eight games. He has a 2.31 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage during his seven-game point streak (5-0-2).

Sidney Crosby is three assists shy of 1,000 for his career. Only 13 players have reached that mark in NHL history.

Crosby is one goal shy of reaching 40 in a season for the third time.

Rickard Rakell is one goal shy of reaching 200 for his career.

Reilly Smith is two assists shy of 300 for his career.

Michael Bunting is two assists shy of 100 for his career and one assist shy of hitting the 30 in a season for the second time.

Crosby has 64 points (23 goals, 41 assists) in 48 career games against Tampa Bay.

Evgeni Malkin has 61 points (27 goals, 34 points) in 46 career games against the Lightning.

Kris Letang has 41 points (5 goals, 36 assists) in 46 career games against Tampa Bay.

Erik Karlsson has 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 39 career games against Tampa Bay.

How to Watch


Radio: 105.9 FM The Fan