Who: Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0-0)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, NHL Network elsewhere (Bally Sports Sun for the away broadcast)
Opponent Track: After opening the season with a loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Lightning are heading to Pittsburgh on the second half of a back-to-back set of away games. Last night in Columbus, Tampa turned a 2-2 first-period tie into a definitive 5-2 win.
Pens Path Ahead: The Penguins travel to Montreal for their first away game of the season this Monday. They return home the following Thursday, when the Los Angeles Kings come to town.
Season Series: The Penguins are set to face off twice more with Tampa Bay in quick succession in 2023 (February 26 at home, and March 2 on the road). Last season, Pittsburgh went 2-1-0 against the Lightning in three high-scoring contests.
Getting to know the Lightning
SBN Counterpart Blog: Raw Charge
Friday Game Lines
Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Nick Paul - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn
Ross Colton - Vladislav Namestnikov - Corey Perry
Cole Koepke - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Pat Maroon
Victor Hedman / Cal Foote
Mikhail Sergachev / Erik Cernak
Haydn Fleury / Philippe Myers
Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Brian Elliott)
Scratches: Ian Cole (suspension), Trevor Carrick, Gabriel Fortier
IR: Zach Bogosian, Anthony Cirelli (shoulder surgeries)
Watch out for No. 91
After a season-opening loss against the New York Rangers, the Tampa Bay Lightning went through some line shuffling.
Steven Stamkos began Wednesday as the left wing on the Lightning’s top line, and showed up on Friday as the team’s second line center.
It didn’t seem to matter much to him either way. Stamkos scored a power-play goal on Wednesday, then deflected two more pucks into the net (one off of a Blue Jacket, one off his own blade) on Friday.
And this production streak goes back even further:
Going back to the end of last season, Steven Stamkos has now recorded points in 11 consecutive regular season games. He has 29 points over that 11-game span with 13 goals and 16 assists. Overall, he has 43 points (18G, 25A) in his last 22 regular season games.— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) October 15, 2022
It’s safe to say the Lightning captain be someone for the Penguins to watch for, whether he’s matching up with the Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin line.
To Vasilevskiy, or not to Vasilevskiy?
Andrei Vasilevskiy started the Lightning’s first two games of the season, including the first half of the back-to-back set on Friday.
It’s early in the season, so the Lightning could push Vasilevskiy to play three games in four days. After all, he had one of the heaviest workloads in the NHL last season.
But they could also rest him, and put in backup and former Flyer Brian Elliot instead.
The Penguins will be hoping for that outcome. Vasilevskiy looked every bit of 6-foot-4 on Friday:
And now for the Pens...
Thursday Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Ryan Poehling - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Jeff Petry
Pierre-Olivier Joseph / Jan Rutta
Goalies: Tristan Jarry (Casey DeSmith)
Scratches: Teddy Blueger (day-to-day injury), Chad Ruhwedel
Time to see who these Penguins really are...
Fans could not have asked for more in a season opener. Not only did Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both get on the board, but perennially drought-plagued scorers like Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen put pucks in the net, and new addition Jeff Petry earned his first point as a Penguin.
But this 6-2 win was against the Arizona Coyotes, a group ranked 31st in the NHL with 57 points— and a 25-50-7 record— in 2021-22
The Penguins suffered a few sloppy moments and some eye-catchingly disconnected passes on Thursday. The Coyotes weren’t able to convert on these opportunities— but a more dangerous team might have.
The Lightning are going to put that to the test.
This is not same Tampa Bay team that won back-to-back championships, but the roster still boasts the likes of Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Saturday is going to be the first significant test of what this season’s Penguins team— especially its relatively-untested fourth line, with Ryan Poehling at its center in place of an injured Teddy Blueger— is going to look like against competitive teams.
Now that he's had a bit more time to digest last night's opener, here's what stood out to Mike Sullivan:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) October 14, 2022
"There are some areas where we know we can get better. But for the first game, just the enthusiasm, the compete level, the energy level - I thought it was tremendous."