After almost a week away from game action, the Pittsburgh Penguins are back on the ice tonight against the visiting Florida Panthers. The Penguins may be a bit rusty since their last game on Wednesday, a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. The struggling Panthers have lost their last two contests including a 3-2 loss on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:00 pm/et (Root Sports, FS-F, RDS)
Records: Penguins (34-12-2, 70 pts.); Panthers (18-23-7, 43 pts.)
Season series: Tied at 1.
Last meeting: The Penguins and Panthers last saw each other a little over a month ago on November 30th in Sunrise, Florida. The Penguins had their way with the Panthers, leaving Florida with a 5-1 victory and the two points that comes with it. Pittsburgh goal-scorers included Chris Kunitz, Joe Vitale, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Jussi Jokinen. Jeff Zatkoff picked up his fourth win of the season, stopping thirty-nine of forty shots.
Who to keep an eye on:
1. Sean Bergenheim: Ugh, Sean Bergenheim. The man practically torments the Penguins. Not so much in the regular season, but 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Bergenheim completed Tampa Bay’s comeback against Pittsburgh with backbreaking goals in games six and seven. He and Dominic Moore formed one of the most hated duos in Pittsburgh hockey history.
2. Olli Maatta: The nineteen-year-old defenseman is coming off maybe the best game of his young career against the Capitals. Maatta scored the game-winning goal and showed great patience in composure in stressful situations.
Ex-Penguin alert: GM Dale Tallon (1978-1980)
Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), C Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle), C Jayson Megna (lower body), RW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (hand), RW Chuck Kobasew (lower body), LW James Neal (upper body), C Brian Gibbons (lower body), C Joe Vitale (wrist)
Panthers: D Dylan Olsen (lower body), D Alex Petrovic (upper body), C Jesse Winchester (hand), RW Tomas Kopecky (shoulder). G Tim Thomas (flu), D Mike Mottau (leg)
-The extended time off gave some Penguins time to get healthy. It appears that James Neal, Chuck Kobasew, Paul Martin, and Jayson Megna may return to the lineup tonight.
-Pascal Dupuis will have surgery on his torn ACL on February 12th.
-The Panthers are 15-14-3 under head coach Peter Horachek. Kevin Dineen was fired on November 8th.
-Hockey Canada named Sidney Crosby team captain for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.
-Jesse Winchester is expected to be back in the Florida lineup in the place vacated by Tomas Kopecky.
-Pittsburgh is looking for their fourteenth consecutive victory inside Consol Energy Center.
Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)
14 Chris Kunitz-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-12 Chuck Kobasew
36 Jussi Jokinen-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal
17 Taylor Pyatt-16 Brandon Sutter-15 Tanner Glass
27 Craig Adams-38 Zach Sill-59 Jayson Megna
44 Brooks Orpik (A)-7 Paul Martin
4 Rob Scuderi-58 Kris Letang
3 Olli Maatta-2 Matt Niskanen
29 Marc-Andre Fleury (27-10-1, .917 save %, 2.26 GAA, 3 SO)
Panthers (via Steve Goldstein (@goldieonice))
20 Sean Bergenheim-16 Aleksander Barkov-24 Brad Boyes
14 Tomas Fleischmann-27 Nick Bjugstad-19 Scottie Upshall
11 Jonathan Huberdeau-57 Marcel Goc (A)-17 Jesse Winchester
12 Jimmy Hayes-15 Drew Shore-18 Shawn Mattias
51 Brian Campbell (A)-77 Tom Gilbert
7 Dmitry Kulikov-43 Mike Weaver
55 Ed Jovanovski (C)-44 Erik Gudbranson
30 Scott Clemmensen (5-4-1, .894 save %, 2.91 GAA, 0 SO)