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Game Preview: Arizona Coyotes @ Pittsburgh Penguins 12/12/2023 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens look to snap out of a 1-2-3 stretch against a Coyotes team riding three straight losses.

Arizona Coyotes v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Who: Arizona Coyotes (13-12-2, 28 points, 5th place Central Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (11-12-3, 25 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh and Scripps Sports for the local markets, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: After the three-day break between games this weekend, the Pens schedule condenses into two games in as many days as the team hits the road right after playing the Coyotes to face the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. The Canadian road swing then continues into Toronto for a meeting with the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Opponent Track: The Coyotes are meeting the Penguins on the latter end of a back-to-back set. Last night the Yotes lost 5-3 to the Sabres in Buffalo. They have now dropped three straight following a five-game win streak earlier this month.

Season Series: The Penguins will see the Coyotes again in Arizona on January 22.

Hidden Stat: The Coyotes power play is currently operating at a 23.7 percent success rate. If the team keeps that up through a full season, it would mark the most successful power play since the franchise moved to Arizona.

Getting to know the Coyotes

Lines from Monday’s game

FORWARDS

Clayton Keller - Nick Schmaltz - Jason Zucker

Matias Maccelli - Nick Bjugstad - Lawson Crouse

Michael Carson - Alexander Kerfoot

Milos Kelemen - Logan Cooley - Liam O’Brien

DEFENSEMEN

JJ Moser - Matt Dumba

Juuso Valimaki - Troy Stecher

Travis Dermott - Joshua Brown

Michael Kesselring

Goalies: Connor Ingram (Karel Vejmelka started last night)

Possible scratches: Ryan McGregor, Sean Durzi

IR: Barrett Hayton, Jack McBain, Travis Boyd, Jakub Voracek, Bryan Little, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Shea

  • The Coyotes have been playing with 11 forwards and seven defensemen since defenseman Juuso Välimäki’s return to the lineup at the end of November.
  • Tonight will mark Jason Zucker’s first time playing against the Penguins since his offseason departure. He has five goals and nine points in 19 games with the Coyotes this season.

Player stats

(via hockeydb, does not include Monday night’s game)

  • The Coyotes offense may not be consistently potent— heading into Monday, they ranked below only the San Jose Sharks with 25.8 shots per game— but they can explode in sudden bursts. They’ve scored consecutive goals in a five minutes or less three times over their past eight games.
  • Michael Carsone, who played just 30 games for the Coyotes over the past two seasons, is having a breakout season. He has 14 goals in 25 games so far, including five in his last six and one last night against the Sabres.
  • Prior to their current losing streak, the Coyotes recently strung together consecutive wins over the 2023, 2022, 2021/20, 2019 and 2018 Stanley Cup champions. They’ll be looking to add the 2016/17 champs to that list tonight.

And now for the Penguins

Infographic courtesy of Pens PR

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Drew O’Connor

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Valtteri Puustinen

Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Jeff Carter

Jansen Harkins - Jonathan Gruden - Adam Johnstone

DEFENSEMEN

Ryan Graves / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea / John Ludvig

Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: Bryan Rust (week-to-week injury), Noel Acciari (lower body injury), Dmitri Samorukov, Jesse Puljujärvi (free agent tryout), P.O. Joseph (recalled Sunday from his conditioning loan to the WBS Pens)

IR: Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury), Matt Nieto (lower body injury)

  • P.O. Joseph and Chad Ruhwedel rejoined the Penguins for Sunday practice and could be slotted back into the lineup if ready to go Tuesday. Bryan Rust, now listed at week-to-week, was not present. Lars Eller missed Monday practice with an illness but is expected to be ready tonight, all per Pens Inside Scoop.
  • Former Edmonton Oilers, and briefly Carolina Hurricanes, winger Jesse Puljujärvi joined practice this weekend on a tryout basis. He spent Sunday alternating with Drew O’Connor alongside Guentzel and Crosby. It is unclear how much the forward, who is on his way back to playing after undergoing bilateral hip surgery in the offseason, is going to be with the team going forward. He was not present at Monday’s practice.
  • This is the first game of a back-to-back set for the Penguins, so they’ll likely give one start each to Jarry and Nedeljkovic. Both have been relatively solid for the Penguins during their underwhelming 1-2-3 stretch.
  • A look at the power-play setup the Pens tried out Monday as they look to recover from a monthlong stretch without a goal on the man advantage: