Coming off a heartbreaking last second loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to get back on the winning track Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning sits third in the Eastern Conference behind the Penguins and the Boston Bruins, and are looking to build off their 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Records: Penguins (45-19-5, 95 pts.); Lightning (39-24-7, 85 pts.)
Season series: Penguins lead 2-0
Last meeting: The Penguins and Lightning haven’t seen each other in quite some time. November 29, 2013 marks the last time Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have faced each other with the Penguins leaving Florida with a 3-0 shutout. It was Marc-Andre Fleury’s third shutout of the season with goals coming from Chris Kunitz and Brandon Sutter. Kunitz tallied two goals, his twelfth and thirteenth on the season.
Who to keep an eye on:
1. Steven Stamkos: Of course when you talk about the Lightning, you start with Steven Stamkos. The twenty-four year old center has only played in twenty-five games this season after breaking his leg that was supposed to keep him out for the year. But, he returned and was named team captain after Tampa sent Martin St. Louis to the Rangers at the trade deadline. Stamkos is more than a point-per-game player with thirty points in those twenty-five games.
2. Evgeni Malkin: After scoring two goals on Thursday against the Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin may be starting to turn the corner in the goal-scoring department. Malkin has sixty-eight points in fifty-eight games this season, so the points have been there. Now with healthy linemates, look for Malkin to start putting pucks in the net.
Ex-Penguin alert: LW Ryan Malone (2003-2008)
Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clots), D Kris Letang (stroke), D Paul Martin (broken hand), RW Beau Bennett (wrist), LW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (foot), C Joe Vitale (upper body)
Lightning: D Brian Lee (knee), D Mattias Ohlund (knee)
-The Penguins sent Beau Bennett to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for some conditioning games to test his wrist before he returns to the big club.
-James Neal was fined $5,000 for his cross-check to the head of Luke Glendening of the Red Wings.
-In the same game, David Legwand was also fined $5,000 for jabbing the butt-end of his stick into the midsection of Evgeni Malkin.
-Alex Killorn of the Lightning didn’t receive any supplemental discipline for this hit on Paul Ranger of the Maple Leafs.
-Valterri Filppula is on a seven-game point scoring streak.
Projected lines (via Empty Netters):
14 Chris Kunitz-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-22 Lee Stempniak
36 Jussi Jokinen-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal
15 Tanner Glass-57 Marcel Goc-17 Taylor Pyatt
49 Brian Gibbons-16 Brandon Sutter-27 Craig Adams
44 Brooks Orpik (A)-2 Matt Niskanen
3 Olli Maatta-4 Rob Scuderi
47 Simon Despres-41 Robert Bortuzzo
37 Jeff Zatkoff (11-4-1, .918 save %, 2.52 GAA, 1 SO)
16 Teddy Purcell-91 Steven Stamkos (C)-9 Tyler Johnson
18 Ondrej Palat-51 Valtteri Filppula-24 Ryan Callahan
71 Richard Panik-17 Alex Killorn-23 J.T. Brown
12 Ryan Malone-44 Nate Thompson (A)-19 B.J. Crombeen
6 Sami Salo-77 Victor Hedman
25 Matt Carle-7 Radko Gudas
2 Eric Brewer (A)-21 Michael Kostka
30 Ben Bishop (34-11-6, .927 save %, 2.17 GAA, 5 SO)