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Game Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Pittsburgh Penguins 3/28/2024 - Lines, how to watch

The Pens and Jackets meet up, with Sidney Crosby having the chance to move up the all-time scoring lists

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: Columbus Blue Jackets (23-37-12, 58 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (31-30-10, 72 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7 p.m. ET

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

Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens see these same Blue Jackets on Saturday night that kicks off a four-game road trip that will see Pittsburgh play the Rangers (Monday), Devils (Tuesday) and Capitals (next Thursday). After that the Pens return home to play Tampa on Saturday April 6th as the season enters the last few weeks.

Opponent Track: Columbus enters tonight on a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) after falling 6-2 to Arizona on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets are just 1-6-2 in the last nine games (the lone win coming over a San Jose team even worse than CBJ is) but Columbus does hold victories over Edmonton and Vegas earlier in the month, so that’s something to show they occasionally can get results.

Season Series: The “rivalry” has been as one sided as ever lately. The Pens beat the Blue Jackets 5-3 back on March 5th and took another 5-3 game back in November in Columbus. The series wraps up with the two games in the next few days. Pens PR points out that Pittsburgh has points in 11-straight games (10-0-1) against the Blue Jackets dating back to Dec. 12, 2019. Going further, Pittsburgh is 20-3-2 in its last 25 games against Columbus dating back to Feb. 3, 2017...The Pens have also won 14 straight home games against CBJ.

Hidden Stat: Beware the Jackets early! Per Aaron Portzline, CBJ has scored the first goal in each of their last four games. However, after that initial goal, the Jackets have been out-scored by a combined 19-5 mark en route to four losses.

Getting to know the Blue Jackets

Projected lines (based on Tuesday’s game)

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Boone Jenner - Alexandre Texier

Michael Pyyhtia - Cole Sillinger - Kirill Marchenko

Dmitri Voronkov - Brendan Gaunce - Mathieu Olivier

James Malatesta - Tyler Angle - Carson Meyer

DEFENSEMEN

Zach Werenski / Damon Severson

Ivan Provorov / Jake Bean

Jake Christiansen / Erik Gudbranson

Goalies: Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov

Possible scratches: Adam Boqvist, Adam Fantilli, Alex Nylander, Yegov Chinakov, Justin Danforth, Sean Kuraly

IR: Kent Johnson

NHLPA Players Assistance Program: Patrik Laine

—The fourth line, and lineup in general, has heavy NHL video game created names in like year five of dynasty mode.

—Alex Nylander got hurt last week with a day-to-day injury and didn’t play last time out. He was already starting to show signs of tapering off (no points, -6 and only 6 SOG in prior four games) after his red hot start, it will be interesting to see if he’s able to pull the nose back up.

—Fantilli hasn’t played since late January after being injured. Bummer, and sadly on brand for Columbus to not have an exciting young player available for much of the season.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—Roslovic and Peeke were traded off at the deadline but the team didn’t lose too much. Don’t really have that much to offer anyways.

—Gaudreau’s contract still goes through 2029. Can’t feel bad for a guy with that paycheck, but man, tough go in the free agency rodeo for him in that deal.

“The team that parity forgot”

What a line that is. Portzline had an excellent feature detailing 25 years of struggles and futility that have pockmarked Columbus’ pro hockey team at every turn. It’s a fantastic read.

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Drew O’Connor - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jonathan Gruden - Sam Poulin - Jesse Puljujarvi

DEFENSEMEN

P.O. Joseph / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Graves / Jack St. Ivany

Goalies: Tristan Jarry or Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential Scratches: Jeff Carter, John Ludvig, Emil Bemstrom

IR: Matt Nieto (knee surgery), Jansen Harkins (hand injury), Noel Acciari (lower body injury)

—Smith missed practice yesterday, being the latest Penguin on new dad duty prepping for childbirth. It’s unknown if he will play tonight. Carter and Bemstrom took turns in practice in that spot of the lineup, with the rest of the team playing in the same spots as Tuesday night’s win over Carolina.

—Nedeljkovic has started the last two games and after making 39 saves last game out, you’d have to wonder if he’s going to play tonight and more down the stretch. Though it doesn’t seem like he’s played “a lot” a lot, Jarry ranks tied-9th in the NHL this year with 48 starts. There’s not much sense in his continued use at this point of the year, and even less given that Nedeljkovic has been sharper lately anyways.

Lookin’ for 11th

Sidney Crosby is red hot with seven points in the last two games. The next points will be milestone ones to catch and pass Raymond Bourque for 11th all-time in NHL scoring.

Crosby would need 12 more points over the season’s last 11 games to reach Phil Esposito in 10th.

Crosby is also currently at 993 assists, leaving just seven more helpers to go until he would become the 14th player in NHL history to hit 1,000.

..And also 80

Pens PR also points out for us that Crosby with four more points this season gets him to the 80-point mark and in rare company in that regard.

Sidney Crosby enters tomorrow’s game just four points shy of his 13th 80-point campaign. Crosby’s 12 80-point seasons are currently tied for fifth in NHL history, and when he reaches 80 points this year, only Wayne Gretzky will have more such seasons:

Player 80-Point Seasons

Wayne Gretzky 17
Mark Messier 13
Dale Hawerchuk 13
Marcel Dionne 13
Sidney Crosby 12
Joe Sakic 12
Steve Yzerman 12