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Pens Points: Heading South

Pens head into Nashville to face the Predators for the first time this season. Get up to date on the latest team news.

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NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Through 74 games this season, the Penguins have played 29 different opponents from across the NHL. The only team they have not played this season is the Nashville Predators, their opponents from the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. That changes tonight when the Penguins travel to Nashville for their first meeting against the Predators this season.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 PM and will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.

Here are Thursday’s Pens Points in advance of tonight’s contest...

Tuesday night’s loss was just another in a string of late game collapses over the last three weeks. This now being their fourth blown third period lead dating back to the Stadium Series, the Penguins are letting points slip away at the most crucial juncture of the season. [Pensburgh]

While the Penguins recent struggles may be cause for alarm amongst the fan base, one person who is not worrying is head coach Mike Sullivan. Watching his team throw away crucial points is not what a coach wants to see, but he remains confident in his team’s ability to bounce back. [Pensburgh]

In an effort to jolt his team, general manager Jim Rutherford turned to his AHL squad for a fresh face. Forward Adam Johnson has been recalled by the Penguins and looks to be on track to make his NHL debut tonight in Nashville. Going down to make room for Johnson was forward Joseph Blandisi and defenseman Juuso Riikola. [Pensburgh]

You probably do not need a reminder how all four of these blown leads came about but in case you did forget, all four came after allowing late goals with the goaltender pulled. This propensity for allowing late goals in tight games is a growing concern that the team must address immediately. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Allowing late goals is a concern but that concern could be mitigated if the Penguins offense found a way to pot a few more goals of their own. During this three-game losing streak, the Penguins offense is averaging only 1.33 goals per game and only scored more than one goal once. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Evgeni Malkin will be out of the Penguins lineup for an extended time but the Penguins did get some good news on Tuesday night with the return of Kris Letang after missing 11 games. Letang’s return had its ups and downs, but his late third period goal was enough to help the Penguins secure at least a point in their playoff hunt. [Trib Live]

The Penguins defense has been battered by injuries this season and it has shown in man games lost due to injury. While some of the injuries may be from freak occurrences, others stem from the normal wear and tear of a hockey season, and the Penguins style of play makes them more susceptible to abuse from opponents. [Trib Live]

News and notes from around the NHL...

On Tuesday, Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels signed the largest contract in sports history valued at $430 million over 12 years. No salary cap allows baseball players to sign lucrative deals, but what would a deal for a top NHL player look like with no salary cap? [USA Today]

The San Jose Sharks are one of the best teams in the Western Conference and will be a favorite to play for the Stanley Cup once the playoffs begin. One area for concern for the Sharks that could derail their season is how historically awful their goaltending has been for a team in their position. [NBC Sports]