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Penguins preview: 4/9 vs. Red Wings

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The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have much to play for at the moment with their playoff position basically determined, but they are using the remainder of the regular season to get healthy. That starts tonight as they welcome back Kris Letang, who missed the last ten weeks recovering from a stroke. Their opponent for tonight, the Detroit Red Wings, are in a similar position in regards to injuries. Pavel Datsyuk made his return to the lineup recently, and they continue to await word on Henrik Zetterberg. The Penguins are coming off a 3-2 victory in Denver over the Colorado Avalanche with a depleted lineup, and the Red Wings are looking to capitalize on their win over the Buffalo Sabres last night.

When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 8:00 pm/et (NBC Sports Network, TSN2)

Records: Penguins (50-24-5, 105 pts.); Red Wings (38-27-14, 90 pts.)

Season series: Tied at 1.

Last meeting: The Penguins and Red Wings met less than a month ago in Detroit. On March 20th, the Red Wings squashed a Penguins comeback with a 5-4 overtime victory. Pittsburgh was led by two goals from Evgeni Malkin and additional goals from Lee Stempniak and Craig Adams. Daniel Alfredsson registered the game-winner (his second of the game) for Detroit about five minutes into overtime while Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, and Todd Bertuzzi each added a tally of their own.

Who to keep an eye on:

1. Gustav Nyquist: The twenty-four year old winger sits second on the Red Wings in points with forty-seven, but leads the team in goals twenty-eight. The next player after him is Tomas Tatar with nineteen goals. The surreal thing about Nyquist’s season is that he has only played in fifty-four games. In his last game against Pittsburgh, Nyquist registered two points (1G, 1A).

2. Kris Letang: It’s been a rough season for Kris Letang, but hopefully all of that will cumulate tonight with his return after missing ten weeks. Letang has been practicing for a few weeks, but we’ll see how that translates to game action and how long it will take him to get back into the swing of things.

Ex-Penguins: RW Mikael Samuelsson (2003)

Injuries:

Penguins: G Tomas Vokoun (blood clots), LW Pascal Dupuis (knee), RW Chris Conner (foot), C Joe Vitale (upper body), C Evgeni Malkin (foot), C Marcel Goc (foot)

Red Wings: C Stephen Weiss (sports hernia), D Jonathan Ericsson (finger), LW Henrik Zetterberg (back), RW Daniel Cleary (knee), RW Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder)

Additional notes:

-Kris Letang rises.

-This is a potential first round playoff matchup with the current state of the standings. The Red Wings sit in the first wild card spot while the Penguins are the Metropolitan Division champions and second in the Eastern Conference.

-Andrew Ebbett was sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton along with Tomas Vokoun, who is there on a conditioning assignment.

Projected lines:

Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)

14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-19 Beau Bennett

49 Brian Gibbons-36 Jussi Jokinen-18 James Neal

15 Tanner Glass-16 Brandon Sutter-22 Lee Stempniak

17 Taylor Pyatt-27 Craig Adams-45 Adam Payerl

4 Rob Scuderi-58 Kris Letang

44 Brooks Orpik (A)-7 Paul Martin

3 Olli Maatta-2 Matt Niskanen

29 Marc-Andre Fleury (38-18-4, .917 save %, 2.34 GAA, 5 SO)

Red Wings (via redwings.nhl.com)

8 Justin Abdelkader-13 Pavel Datsyuk (A)-93 Johan Franzen (A)

14 Gustav Nyquist-15 Riley Sheahan-21 Tomas Tatar

11 Daniel Alfredsson-43 Darren Helm-26 Tomas Jurco

20 Drew Miller-17 David Legwand-41 Luke Glendening

55 Niklas Kronwall (A)-2 Brendan Smith

27 Kyle Quincey-65 Danny DeKeyser

23 Brian Lashoff-4 Jakub Kindl

50 Jonas Gustavsson (16-5-3, .909 save %, 2.62 GAA, 0 SO)

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