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Penguins preview: 12/29 at Blue Jackets

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After coming out of the Christmas break with a victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins go for two straight road wins as they head to Columbus for another meeting with the Blue Jackets. The Jackets have won their last three games, most recently against the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

When and where: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, OH); 6:00 pm/et (Root Sports, FS-O)

Records: Penguins (28-11-1, 57 pts.); Blue Jackets (17-17-4, 38 pts.)

Season series: Penguins lead 3-0

Last meeting: The Penguins and Blue Jackets met earlier this month on the ninth in Pittsburgh. In a low-scoring game, the Penguins came away with a 2-1 victory with their only goals coming from Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The only Jackets goal came from Matt Calvert as Marc-Andre Fleury stopped thirty-two of thirty-three shots for his seventeenth win of the year.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Ryan Johansen: The young Johansen leads the Blue Jackets in points with thirty (15G, 15A), and has registered at least one point in each of the previous games between Pittsburgh and Columbus.

2. Jeff Zatkoff: The back-up goaltender of the Penguins returns to the place where he got his first career NHL win and shutout back on November 2nd. That victory in Columbus started a streak of wins that has run to six and is still going.

Ex-Penguin alert: C Mark Letestu (2006-2011), C Ryan Craig (2010-2012), Senior Advisor Craig Patrick (GM from 1989-2006), Head Coach Todd Richards (HC in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from 2006-2008)

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), D Paul Martin (broken tibia), D Kris Letang (arm/elbow), RW Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), C Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle), C Evgeni Malkin (lower body), C Jayson Megna (lower body), RW Pascal Dupuis (knee)

Blue Jackets: RW Nathan Horton (shoulder), C Cody Bass (thumb), RW Jared Boll (foot), G Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), D Dalton Prout (upper body), LW Matt Calvert (upper body), RW Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone), C Derek MacKenzie (lower body)

Additional notes:

-Rob Scuderi says he is ready to return to the lineup, but Dan Bylsma is calling him “possible” to play.

-Penguins are waiting for Evgeni Malkin to be cleared for contact before moving to the next step towards returning.

-Former Penguin Ryan Craig has been called-up from Springfield in case Derek MacKenzie’s lower body injury keeps him out.

-Jeff Zatkoff is looking for win number seven in a row.

Projected lines:

Penguins (based on Friday night’s lineup in Carolina)

14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-46 Joe Vitale

23 Chris Conner-36 Jussi Jokinen-18 James Neal

39 Harry Zolnierczyk/49 Brian Gibbons-16 Brandon Sutter-12 Chuck Kobasew

15 Tanner Glass-38 Zach Sill-27 Craig Adams

44 Brooks Orpik (A)-5 Deryk Engelland

2 Matt Niskanen-3 Olli Maatta

41 Robert Bortuzzo-47 Simon Despres

(4 Rob Scuderi?)

37 Jeff Zatkoff (6-2-0, .912 save %, 2.46 GAA, 1 SO)

Blue Jackets (via bluejackets.nhl.com)

71 Nick Foligno-19 Ryan Johansen-18 R.J. Umberger

42 Artem Anisimov-17 Brandon Dubinsky (A)-13 Cam Atkinson

14 Blake Comeau-55 Mark Letestu (A)-5 Jack Skille

38 Boone Jenner-12 Ryan Craig/24 Derek MacKenzie-26 Cory Tropp

51 Fedor Tyutin-7 Jack Johnson (A)

27 Ryan Murray-21 James Wisniewski

6 Nikita Niktin-58 David Savard

31 Curtis McElhinney (6-5-1, .921 save %, 2.43 GAA, 1 SO)

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