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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Tampa Bay Lightning 12/6/2023 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens and Lightning meet for the second time in a week

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (11-10-3, 25 points, 6th place Metropolitan Division) @ Tampa Bay Lightning (11-10-5, 27 points, 5th place Atlantic Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh, Bally Sports Sun, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens don’t get a ton of time in the sun, they hop over towards Miami and play the Panthers on Friday night. They get a few days off before returning home to play Arizona at home next Tuesday and then are on the road quickly for a game in Montreal next Wednesday.

Opponent Track: It’s only been six days since these teams played in the same building, a game the Penguins won 4-2. After that, the Lightning moved on with a Saturday-Monday home-and-home with Dallas. The first game, on the road, Tampa was down 3-0 just moments into the contest and losing 6-1 by the end of the second period en route to a 8-1 beatdown at the hands of the Stars. The Lightning regrouped and returned the favor though, by beating Dallas 4-0 on Monday in their last game.

Season Series: As mentioned above, the Pens took round one last week. Tonight is the second game in rapid succession, and now the two teams don’t see each other all the way until April. Gotta love the randomness of the NHL scheduling.

Hidden Stat: For whatever reason, certain teams just seem to have each other’s numbers (as we’ve seen with Pittsburgh struggling against Carolina and New Jersey in recent times). On the positive side, for the Lightning the Pens are that team that they just never can seem to beat. The Penguins have five straight wins over Tampa and have come out on top in six of their last seven games against the Lightning.

Getting to know the Lightning

Lines from Monday’s game

FORWARDS

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Barre-Boulet

Tanner Jeannot - Nicolas Paul - Mikey Eyssimont

Tyler Motte - Luke Glendening - Austin Watson

DEFENSEMEN

Victor Hedman / Nick Perbix

Mikhail Sergachev / Erik Cernak

Calvin de Haan / Darren Raddysh

Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy and Jonas Johansson

Possible scratches: Cole Koepke, Haydn Fleury

IR: Conor Sheary, Logan Brown

—Kucherov is playing back at his 2018-19 Ross/Hart/Lindsay trophy levels. He’s on a 10-game assist and point streak (5G+14A) and as of yesterday his 42 points were at least six up on every single player in the NHL.

—Victor Hedman celebrated his 1,000th game in the NHL during Tampa’s last game. The big defender is the third player from the 2009 draft class (after John Tavares and Ryan O’Reilly) to make it to that milestone.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—Unsurprisingly, Vasilievskiy hasn’t been super-sharp since recently coming back from offseason surgery, but he did record 25 saves in the shutout win over Dallas on Monday for his finest effort of his short season. (Of course, that came following his worst game of the season when he gave up six goals in two periods to Dallas on Saturday). Last week, the Pens touched Vasilievskiy up for three goals on 28 shots.

—There was a lot of sticker shock in March 2022 to see the price when Tampa gave up two future first round picks to acquire Brandon Hagel (and his appealing $1.5 million cap hit through 2023-24) from Chicago. Hagel’s done his part with a 30goal/60+ points last season (and setting an early season pace this year of 73 points). Beyond the numbers, he adds speed and some tenacious net-front #grit along the way. What do you say, with hindsight would you give up the futures of Owen Pickering and Brayden Yager in order to have made that trade to get Hagel for the current? It would have benefited the Pens big time to get a more punch and offensive firepower at a bargain rate, and on top of that adding a 23-25 year old player would have been really nice for this current group. It’s nothing but a
hypothetical now, and such a bold move was never bound to happen for Pittsburgh with the conservative Ron Hextall at the wheel back then, but that type of move is probably what Kyle Dubas can/should consider doing if it presents itself in the future. (Even though the Pens have already dealt away their 2024 first rounder in the Erik Karlsson trade).

And now for the Penguins

Infographic courtesy of Pens PR

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Drew O’Connor

Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Alex Nylander

Jansen Harkins - Joona Koppanen - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Ryan Graves / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea / John Ludvig

Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: Vinnie Hinostroza, Noel Acciari (lower body injury), Dmitri Samorukov

IR: P.O. Joseph (lower body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury), Matt Nieto (lower body injury)

Sid closing in on former teammates

Pens PR provides this information about Sidney Crosby closing in on some former teammates and players with Penguin connections on the all-time NHL list of both goals and points.

Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby leads Pittsburgh in goals (15) and is second in points (26) and multi-point games (5). Crosby has registered points in 19 of 24 games this season (79.1%), Crosby, who ranks 15th in NHL history with 1,528 points (565G-963A), is three points shy of tying Paul Coffey for 14th place on the NHL’s all-time points list:

Most Points, NHL History

Rank Player Points

12 Joe Thornton 1,539
13 Mark Recchi 1,533
14 Paul Coffey 1,531
15 Sidney Crosby 1,528
16 Alex Ovechkin 1,499

Crosby tallied the lone Pittsburgh goal on Monday in Philadelphia, claiming sole possession of 24th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list:\

Most Goals, NHL History

Rank Player Goals

22 Mike Bossy 573
23 Patrick Marleau 566
24 Sidney Crosby 565
T-25 Mats Sundin 564
T-25 Joe Nieuwendyk 564