Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (11-11-3, 25 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Florida Panthers (15-8-2, 32 points, 2nd place Atlantic Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh and Bally Sports Florida for the local markets, the game is being broadcast on NHL Network for the national crowd
Pens’ Path Ahead: Pittsburgh is a team that looks like they need a break, and after tonight’s fourth game in seven days they’ll finally get one. The Pens are inactive for the next three days before a home game against Arizona next Tuesday, quickly followed by a road trip to Montreal on Wednesday.
Opponent Track: The Panthers should be feeling pretty good about themselves, they’re 3-1-1 in the last five. They’ve traded games in the last two, losing 4-3 to NYI last Saturday and then had a few days off themselves before a spirited 5-4 victory over Dallas on Wednesday in their previous game.
Season Series: This is the first PIT/FLA game of the year and the one and only trip for the Pens to Sunrise. The teams meet next on January 26th in Pittsburgh and then a third time also in PA on February 14th.
Hidden Stat: Jake Guentzel is on a current seven-game point streak, and he typically does well against Florida too with 10 points (6G+4A) in his previous eight meetings against Florida.
Getting to know the Panthers
Lines from Wednesday’s game
Evan Rodrigues - Aleksander Barkov - Sam Reinhart
Carter Verhaeghe - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen - Anton Lundell - Nick Cousins
Jonah Gadjovich - Kevin Stenlund - Ryan Lomberg
Gustav Forsling / Aaron Ekblad
Nikko Mikkola / Brandon Montour
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Dmitri Kulikov
Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Anthony Stolarz
Possible scratches: Steven Lorentz, Josh Mahura, Uvis Balinskis
—It’s a packed and stacked lineup down in Florida; between Verhaeghe, Lundell and Forsling they have a ton of really good players that don’t earn a ton of press to go along with star players like Barkov, Tkachuk and Ekblad.
—There’s rarely been time for a better “contract year” than now with the salary cap expected to go up next season, and Sam Reinhart is lighting it up. He’s right on the edge of being top-10 in points in the league and his 17 goals rank second in the NHL. The impending free agent is undoubtedly making himself a lot of money for his next deal with a showing like this.
—The value free agent signings of Oliver Ekman-Larsson (averaging 21 minutes a night!) and Dmitri Kulikov have helped steady the ship a lot until the recent-ish returns of Eklbad and Montour.
—Rodrigues finally got his long-term contract and is fitting right in as a productive option that can be plugged at any position or line on the team. He’s off to a great start with 20 points already this season, including a massive four-point game last time out.
We’re having fun too, E-Rod pic.twitter.com/DpGmCQ7JSG— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) December 7, 2023
And now for the Penguins
Infographic courtesy of Pens PR
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Drew O’Connor
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander
Vinnie Hinostroza - Lars Eller - Jeff Carter
Jansen Harkins - Joona Koppanen - Radim Zohorna
Ryan Graves / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Shea / John Ludvig
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic
Potential scratches: Bryan Rust (injury), 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)
—The injury list mounts, Bryan Rust has been ruled out for tonight with an undisclosed upper body injury. That bumped all the right wingers up a line in practice yesterday.
—Vinnie Hinostroza looks like he’s back from healthy scratch island, but those bottom three lines right now, woof.
A cheer for St. Patric
The Panthers are honoring the playing career of Patric Hornqvist during a pre-game ceremony tonight. Nice tough with the Pens in town.
Sid and Jake take the show on the road
Crosby and Guentzel have some excellent road scoring splits. From the Penguins PR group:
Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby has picked up 17 points (12G-5A) in 13 road games. His 12 goals on the road lead the NHL:
Most Goals in NHL, Road
Player GP G
Sidney Crosby 13 12
Connor Bedard 14 9
Artemi Panarin 14 9
Brayden Point 13 9
Sam Reinhart 13 9
Jake Guentzel is riding an active 10-game road point streak (5G-9A) which is currently tied for second-longest in the NHL:
Longest Active Road Point Streaks, NHL
Player Streak G A PTS
Quinn Hughes 11 3 12 15
Jake Guentzel 10 5 9 14
Anze Kopitar 10 6 6 12
Trevor Moore 10 7 8 15
Connor Bedard 9 8 5 13