Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (44-23-11, 99 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division) @ Detroit Red Wings (30-38-10, 70 points, 6th place Atlantic Division)
When: 12:30 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet for the Western PA area (ATTSN-PT), Bally Sports Detroit for fans of the winged wheel (BSDETX), NHL Network (NHLN)
Opponent Track: After entering April on a season-long six-game losing streak, the Red Wings have been struggling over the past few weeks and are 2-4-1 in their last seven games. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat: their two wins were a decisive 3-0 shutout of the powerful Carolina Hurricanes and a 4-3 regulation victory over the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Pens Path Ahead: Enjoy the last matinee weekend of the regular season! The Penguins will complete the weekend with a Sunday battle in Philadelphia tomorrow at 4:00pm, then finish out the season by hosting the Oilers and Blue Jackets on Tuesday and Friday at PPG Paints Arena.
Season Series: This is the third meeting between Pittsburgh and Detroit this season. On January 28, the Penguins lost 3-2 in a shootout; they got their revenge on March 27 in a game you might remember, as the Penguins became the first team to top 10 goals in the salary cap era during an 11-2 blowout victory.
Hidden Fact: The Red Wings were officially eliminated from 2022 playoff contention on April 9— and funnily enough, it was Pittsburgh’s fault. By losing 6-3 to the visiting Capitals that day, the Penguins guaranteed Washington a wild-card spot and destroyed Detroit’s thin chances of sneaking in as the last team in the East.
Trivia Question: Evgeni Malkin (14) and Sidney Crosby (13) are ranked fourth and fifth in franchise history for goals against the Red Wings. What three Penguins players have caused the most damage against the Red Wings? (Hint: two of the players had their names engraved on the 1991 and 1992 Cups, one as a player, the other as assistant coach. The other served as Penguins captain in 1977-78.)
SBN Counterpart Blog: Winging it in Motown
—Detroit captain Dylan Larkin was having a career year (31 goals and 69 points in 71 games) before he underwent core muscle surgery on April 18.
—The Red Wings have suffered all season from being one of the most porous teams in the NHL: their average of 33.9 shots against per game is the fifth-worst in the league.
—Another Detroit weakness: with a 74% success rate, only Arizona has a less effective penalty kill.
Thursday Game Lines
Tyler Bertuzzi - Joe Veleno - Lucas Raymond
Jakub Vrana - Pius Suter - Filip Zadina
Adam Erne - Michael Rasmussen - Oskar Sundqvist
Mitchell Stephens - Sam Gagner
Danny DeKeyser / Moritz Seider
Marc Staal / Filip Hronek
Jake Walman / Gustav Lindstrom
Goalies: Alex Nedeljkovic (Thomas Greiss)
Scratches: Givani Smith (day-to-day injury), Dylan Larkin (out for the season), Olli Juolevi, Magnus Hellberg, Calvin Rickard (injury)
IR: Robby Fabbri, Carter Rowney
—In their Thursday matchup, a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, the Red Wings sent out seven defensemen. On Friday, they returned Chase Pearson, who had been skating as a fourth-line center, to the AHL and left the fourth line in flux.
—Winger Lucas Raymond, who has been moved up to the Red Wings’ top line, ranks in the top three among NHL rookies with 23 goals and 56 points.
—Jakub Vrana, a trade-deadline pickup for the Red Wings in 2021, set a franchise record during the Red Wings’ Tuesday win against the Lightning by tying the Detroit standard for fewest games to 20 goals (32.)
Advanced stats matchup
—Detroit has the second-least effective penalty kill in the league; the Penguins’ power play is slumping (they have scored once in their past 21 man-advantage opportunities.) The Red Wings could present an opportunity for Pittsburgh to get the power play clicking once again.
And now for the Pens..
Friday Practice Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Evan Rodrigues - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Brian Boyle - Teddy Blueger - Brock McGinn
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Casey DeSmith and Louis Domingue
Scratches: Mark Friedman, Tristan Jarry (week-to-week), Nathan Beaulieu (LTIR)
—Evgeni Malkin will be returning from his four-game suspension.
—Jeff Carter left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury, but head coach Mike Sullivan says he will be available for Saturday’s contest.
Sullivan confirms Carter is good to go, meaning they'll have him, Crosby, Malkin and Blueger available: "We haven't had our four centers together in the lineup very often this year. We're looking forward to the opportunity. I think the depth makes us harder to play against."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 22, 2022
—Jason Zucker missed Friday’s practice due to a non-COVID illness, but will be traveling with the team to Detroit and Philadelphia. He might be a game-time decision.
—On Thursday, Kasperi Kapanen recorded the lowest ice time of anyone on the Penguins (9:56). That’s the most he’s played in the past three games.
—It seems likely that Louis Domingue will get at least one start during this back-to-back weekend, but it remains to be seen if that will come Saturday in Detroit or Sunday in Philadelphia.
Milestone and streak watch
- Casey DeSmith’s shutout streak is currently sitting at 117 minutes, 59 seconds. His 52 saves on Thursday are the most ever made in a Penguins shutout (passing Jean-Sebastien Aubin’s 45 saves on March 9, 2004.)
Trivia Answer: Jean Pronovost (22 goals), Mario Lemieux (21) and Rick Kehoe (19) are the Penguins’ all-time franchise leaders in scoring against the Red Wings.