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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Arizona Coyotes 1/22/2024 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens look for a 12th straight victory against Arizona

Pittsburgh Penguins v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (21-16-6, 48 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Arizona Coyotes (22-19-3, 47 points, 5th place Central Division)

When: 9:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Sportsnet Pittsburgh, SCRIPPS, streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: It’s a few more days off to head back and readjust to the time zone for the Pens, who play next on Friday against the Florida Panthers in Pittsburgh and stay at home on Saturday when the Montreal Canadiens come to town, and then the Pens are home free for the bye week and All-Star break and off until February 6th.

Opponent Track: The Coyotes are a hard team to make sense of, they’re only 3-5-2 in calendar 2024 over the past three weeks but did win their last game on Saturday night 3-2 at home over Nashville. A couple weeks ago, Arizona beat Boston. They followed that up by losing 6-2 to Calgary and then responded with a 6-0 shutout of Minnesota. So ya never quite know what you might get from them. One thing that hasn’t happened a lot lately is scoring goals, Arizona only has six total tallies over their last three games (2 to Calgary in a OT loss, 1 to Vancouver in a regulation loss and 3 on Nashville in a win).

Season Series: Pittsburgh took the first meeting of the season, a 4-2 win in PA back on December 12th. Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel each scored a pair of goals. Per the Pens’ PR department, Pittsburgh is looking to sweep the season series against AZ for a sixth straight time if they take the W tonight, with the Pens winning all of the last 11 matchups between these teams.

Hidden Stat: The humble Coyotes boast one of the NHL’s better power plays at 22.8% (10th in NHL). But they’re only 24th in 5v5 goals. The Penguins should remember that well — both goals they gave up to Arizona last month were scored while the Coyotes were on a power play.

Hidden Stat II: The NCAA-sized Mullett Arena has proven something of a home ice edge for the Coyotes. They’re 14-9-0 at home this season (a 99-point full season pace), with only a 8-10-3 away record (74-point pace). This was also the case last season, AZ’s first at Mullett, where they posted a 21-15-5 record at home and just a 7-25-9 record on the road in 2022-23.

Getting to know the Coyotes

Projected lines (from Saturday’s game)

FORWARDS

Matias Maccelli - Nick Bjugstad - Clayton Keller

Jason Zucker - Alex Kerfoot - Lawson Crouse

Michael Carcone - Jack McBain - Liam O’Brien

Logan Cooley - Dylan Guenther - Josh Brown

DEFENSEMEN

J.J. Moser / Sean Durzi

Travis Dermott / Matt Dumba

Troy Stetcher / Michael Kesselring

Goalies: Connor Ingram and Karel Vejmelka

Possible scratches: Nick Schmaltz (injury), Juuso Valimaki

IR: Barrett Hayton, Travis Boyd

—Schmaltz couldn’t play on Saturday, so defenseman Josh Brown had to skate with the forwards. Schmaltz could be nearing a return as soon as tonight, which brings a big piece back into the lineup.

Clayton was a cowboy

Clayton Keller scored two goals against Nashville and tied Jeremy Roenick in Arizona’s career rankings. Keller has been red hot lately, since December 16th he has 10G+6A in his last 15 games, an almost identical stat-line over the last month to Sidney Crosby (9G+7 in 15 games for the Pens’ captain).

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—As far as NHL teams go, well, this is one of them. None of the mid-range veterans signed this off-season (Zucker, Dumba, Kerfoot) have been all that extraordinary. Keller is a great player but not surrounded by a whole lot.

—Arizona has taken some small victories along the way. Adding Durzi for a second round pick and giving him a big opportunity has paid off nicely. Connor Ingram was a no name off waivers, and re-signed last summer to a three-year $1.95m annual cap hit that suddenly is one of the NHL’s best bargains in net.

—Beyond that, the Coyotes are stuck where they always are, waiting. Waiting for the arena situation. Waiting for exceptionally young players like Cooley, Guenther, McBain and Hayton to take strides. It’s now going on Year 12 of missing the playoffs (save an invite to the NHL’s bubble in the 2020 pandemic year where they weren’t going to make the traditional playoffs) and there still could be several more years of waiting required, unless the team keeps fighting and clawing down the stretch.

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Drew O’Connor - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Colin White - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

Ryan Graves / Erik Karlsson

P.O. Joseph / Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential Scratch: Ryan Shea

IR: Matt Nieto (out from knee surgery until March), John Ludvig (upper body injury)

—The Pens practiced yesterday in Arizona to gear up for tonight’s game. Lines remained from last game as listed above and all expected players taking to the ice.

Sid looking to tie Mario, Recchi

Sidney Crosby is one goal away from tying his one-time former linemate Mark Recchi in career NHL goals.

And if the next goal comes at even strength, Crosby will tie a Mario Lemieux record too. From Pens PR:

Of Crosby’s 576 goals, 404 have come at even strength. His two even strength goals last Monday against Seattle pushed him past Guy Lafleur (403) for the 17th-most even-strength goals in NHL History:

Rank Player EV Goals

15 Jari Kurri 407
16 Mario Lemieux 405
17 Sidney Crosby 404
18 Guy Lafleur 403
19 Frank Mahovlich 400

Exactly 70.14% of Crosby’s goals in his career have come at even strength. Among all 29 players in NHL history with at least 550 goals, only five of them have a higher percentage of even-strength goals to their total goals – Guy Lafleur (403/560, 71.96%), Bobby Hull (437/610, 71.64%), Johnny Bucyk (393/556, 70.68%), Gordie Howe (566/801, 70.66%) and Jaromir Jagr (538/766, 70.23%).