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Game 32 Preview: New Jersey Devils @ Pittsburgh Penguins 3/21/2021: lines, how to watch

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Another day, another Pens/Devils game. This time, the rubber match and conclusion of the three-game mini series

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who: New Jersey Devils (10-14-4, 24 points, 7th place in the Eastern Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (19-11-1, 39 points, 3rd place in the Eastern Division)

When: 1:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+ in the NY/NJ market, NHL Network for out of market viewers

Opponent Track: The Devils are 1-1 against the Pens this week. It’s a tough road ahead for New Jersey, literally, as they go to Philly on Tuesday, then are in Washington for a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday and NJ stays on the road for two games next week in Boston.

Pens path ahead: For the first time since February 21-22 the Penguins will get two straight days off on Monday and Tuesday. Pittsburgh stays at home for the rest of March, today hosting NJ, then a back-to-back with Buffalo on Wednesday-Thursday and then they will welcome the Islanders next Saturday and the following Monday (3/29).

Season Series: NJ took Round one on Thursday night, 3-2 and the Pens returned the favor with a 3-1 victory yesterday. After today, there are five PIT/NJD games in the month of April as the Pens return to Jersey on 4/9 and 4/11. The Devils then come to Pittsburgh for three straight games on 4/20, 4/22 and 4/24.

Recent History: The Pens are 4-2-0 against the Devils in the last six games.

SBN Team Counterpart: Check out All About the Jersey for the latest news to know about the Devils.

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—Part of the Devils issues this season have been the quiet and fairly unproductive play of Andreas Johansson and Nikita Gusev. The team was no doubt hoping for more than five goals and seven assists combined for these two over halfway through the season. Both players have been pretty invisible in the last two games and aren’t getting a ton of ice time.

Possible Lines

FORWARDS

Janne Kuokkanen - Travis Zajac - Yegor Sharangovich

Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Nick Merkley

Jesper Bratt - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri

Andreas Johansson - Mikhail Maltsev - Nikita Gusev

DEFENSEMEN

Ty Smith / Damon Severson

Dmitry Kulikov / P.K. Subban

Ryan Murray / Sami Vatanen

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Will Butcher, Nathan Bastian, Michael McLeod, Mackenzie Blackwood

IR: Nico Hischier

—It might be Aaron Dell in net today for New Jersey, starter Mackenzie Blackwood didn’t even dress yesterday to serve as the backup and Wedgewood played on Thursday and Saturday. New Jersey’s goalie options seem like either a perhaps fatigued/over-worked Wedgewood or Dell, or a potentially less than 100% Blackwood if makes a quick recovery. Doesn’t seem like the best place to be for a third game in four days.

Devils power play letting them down

New Jersey had two chances to tie the game yesterday in the third period, but let it slip away. On the season the NJ PP is 28th in the league, clicking at just at 13.8% conversion rate. From devils.com:

Devils head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t mince words when asked what went wrong with the power play, which had scored in each of the previous three games.

“Execution, speed, determination,” Ruff said. “I thought we were slow. We were slow coming up ice. We made plenty of bad decisions. Once we were inside, we didn’t move it quick enough. We didn’t generate lanes quick enough. Probably the end of it is we didn’t support each other.”

It was only a one-goal game in the third period, 2-1, when the Devils had those four minutes on the power play, and they’ll look back at that missed effort as the moment when the outcome of this game could have been different.

“The power play, we have to be better,” Palmieri said. “We have to make sure we’re at least getting some momentum and getting good looks. I think the power play sucked a little life out of our team and the guys on it. And you can’t have that.

“You have to find a way to generate something, whether that’s momentum, goals, shots, good looks, energy, whatever it is. We just didn’t do any of that.”

And now for the Pens..

Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Evan Rodrigues - Jared McCann - Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Aston-Reese - Mark Jankowski - Sam Lafferty

Colton Sceviour - Frederick Gaudreau - Anthony Angello

Defense

Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang

Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci

Marcus Pettersson / John Marino

Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

Scratches: Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Brandon Tanev

IR: Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman, Teddy Blueger

Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Josh Currie, Josh Maniscalco, Maxime Lagace

—It’s kind of a humorous but painful turn of events lately on how Rodrigues has managed to stay in the top six lately due to other injuries. Rodrigues was slated to play on the fourth line yesterday until (sigh) even Brandon Tanev couldn’t answer the bell and missed the game with injury.

—Tanev did take the pre-game skate and probably won’t be out too long, but if he couldn’t play 24 hours ago his status for today’s game seems cloudy at best. But there is a two day break coming up, usually no big deal, but it looks like quite an oasis in this compressed schedule.

Return of the Rust-ache

Bryan Rust’s upper lip was looking pretty flush yesterday. Turns out an old tradition might have returned:

“It kind of just came out of nowhere, to be honest,” Zach Aston-Reese said of the shootout/mustache wager. “I think it was just to lighten the mood after a loss like that where we made a good push at the end. We didn’t play the best, but we didn’t play the worst.

“Definitely it’s something we did to lighten the mood, and Rusty losing it was just a little bit of cherry on the top with that.”

To his credit, Rust was a good sport about it, and it ended up working out for him today.

“Found a couple razors at the rink, found some shaving cream at the rink, took it back to the hotel and did it there,” he said. “Obviously it’s a look I’ve sported before during Movember, but I was just saving it for today, I guess. Took about 14 attempts in practice yesterday and couldn’t find it, obviously (laughs) and then I was able to capitalize today.”

It’s too bad Rust didn’t use the backhand move in the mustache boy competition that he pulled off in the game yesterday or else he might not have ended up the loser.