Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (26-13-2, 54 points, 3rd place in the Eastern Division) @ New Jersey Devils (14-19-6, 34 points, 7th place Eastern Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+2 in the NYC area, NHL Network nationally
Opponent Track: The Devils are 1-3-1 in their last five games after losing 6-4 to the Pens on Friday night. After tonight, NJ plays the Rangers four straight times from April 13-18 and then go on the road to Pittsburgh for three games from April 20-24th, and then they get the Flyers four straight times from April 25-May 1, so while they won’t make the playoffs they will at least get a spring taste of playing the same teams over and over again in the upcoming weeks.
Pens path ahead: It’s finally the end of the road as the Pens wrap up a tied-for-season-long six game road trip tonight. They’re 3-2-0 on it so far, pretty good for their season road record even if they don’t get a win tonight, but a win certainly makes it a successful trip. Pittsburgh enjoys a non-COVID postponement best three straight days without games next week before Philadelphia comes to town next Thursday, and then the Pens are back on the road next weekend for a matinee back-to-back set with Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday.
Season Series: It’s a 2-1-1 season series for Pittsburgh so far against Jersey (2-2-0 from their perspective). NJ took Round one on March 18th, 3-2 in New Jersey. The Pens returned the favor with a 3-1 win on 3/20, but the Devils won 2-1 in OT in Pittsburgh on 3/21. Pittsburgh won 6-4 on Friday. Tonight is the last game @NJD of the year, the Devils then come to Pittsburgh for three straight games on 4/20, 4/22 and 4/24 to finish out the season series.
Recent History: The Pens are 5-2-1 against the Devils in the last eight games overall, and have won eight of their last 12 @NJ, which defies the “Devils always gives the Pens problems” narrative a bit.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out All About the Jersey for the latest news to know about the Devils.
Player Stats at a Glance
Lines from Friday night
Janne Kuokkonen - Jack Hughes - Yegor Sharangovich
Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Jesper Bratt
Mikhail Maltsev - Michael McLeod - Tyce Thompson
Andreas Johansson - Jesper Boqvist - Nick Merkley
Dmitry Kulikov / P.K. Subban
Ty Smith / Sami Vatanen
Ryan Murray / Damon Severson
Possible Starting goalie: Mackenzie Blackwood
Scratches: Will Butcher, Scott Wedgewood
IR: Nico Hischier, Nate Bastian
—Devils captain Nico Hischier, who hasn’t played since Feb. 27, has been skating and practiced with the team on Wednesday. He will wear a full face shield to protect his surgically repaired nasal area for the rest of the season. Really tough season for the Devils captain who has missed all but five games this year with two separate issues. He’s possible to play tonight, but definitive word is not yet out as press time.
Devils never say die
Down 5-2 in the third, New Jersey found a way to make it as close as 5-4 after scoring a goal while taking out the goalie for an extra attacker. The Devils have played a ton of one goal games (especially when removing empty netters, like the one the Pens scored with 25 seconds left) and close ones haven’t gone their way. But they’ve shown some resiliency to keep battling and build for the future. From devils.com:
The comeback attempt shows this team has a lot of heart, but you can’t dig yourself a three-goal deficit against any team in the National Hockey League and expect to have success. The effort was valiant; however those early man-advantage goals just made the task too tall.
“We showed some good fight tonight, but when it comes down to it, we had too many sloppy calls on us,” said forward Miles Wood, who had two penalties called against him in the game. “I’ll take the blame for the fourth goal, the power-play goal that they had.
“I loved the fight in our team. It was a big 6-on-5 goal for us. Just too little, too late.”
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Jared McCann - Evan Rodrigues
Zach Aston-Reese - Frederick Gaudreau - Sam Lafferty
Radim Zohorna - Mark Jankowski - Colton Sceviour
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel
IR: Evgeni Malkin, Mark Friedman, Teddy Blueger, Kasperi Kapanen, Brandon Tanev
Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi, Josh Currie, Anthony Angello
—We’ll see at noon if Sceviour goes unclaimed from waivers. If so, he’s likely to play again tonight, unless Teddy Blueger is cleared from his injury and the lines are shuffled a bit. It’s a bit of an awkward scenario for Sceviour, but one he’s already been through this season getting waived on 3/8, clearing and then playing again on 3/9 for the Pens against the Rangers.
—What a year it’s been for Sceviour too. He started off hot, scoring two goals in the first four games of the season, then went from Jan. 19 until last game on Apr. 9 between goals. And as soon as he scored, and his line has been playing well, he’s back on the waiver wire as a move to open up flexibility for the Pens. Throw in a brief early March stint on the COVID protocol list for a false positive test and it’s been quite the whirlwind for him.
The Pens’ often-maligned power play has really turned up the juice lately. In the past two+ weeks in their last eight games the Pittsburgh power play is hitting at a league best 38.5% (10 for 26).
11 different players have recorded a point in this stretch. To no surprise, Sidney Crosby is right at the top, but the hottest player has been Jared McCann who has five PPG in the last eight games to represent half of the goals scored with the man advantage.
Overall the Pens are at 22.3% on the PP for the season, good for 11th place in the league entering the weekend.