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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Columbus Blue Jackets 3/30/2024 - Lines, how to watch

The Penguins look to sweep the Blue Jackets season series as a home-and-home set sends the Pens to Columbus.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (32-30-10, 74 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (23-38-12, 58 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7 p.m. ET

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

Pens’ Path Ahead: Tonight’s game marks the first of a four-game division road trip for the Pens. Next up is a back-to-back NYC-area set against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday. The Pens then head to Washington D.C. to take on the Capitals in a Thursday night matchup.

Opponent Track: The Blue Jackets’ Thursday loss to the Penguins marked their sixth straight loss, including the team’s fifth straight on a winless road trip. It also meant their ninth loss in ten games, and their 15th straight at PPG Paints Arena.

“We haven’t won in this barn in however many years. We had a good opportunity tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job done. It’s frustrating.” —Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger after Thursday’s loss, per the Associated Press.

Season Series: The Penguins are looking to sweep the season series after defeating the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Nov. 14 and twice at PPG Paints Arena this month.

Getting to know the Blue Jackets

Projected lines (from Thursday’ game)

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Boone Jenner - Dmitri Voronkov

Alexandre Texier - Cole Sillinger - Kirill Marchenko

Michael Pyyhtia - Brendan Gaunce - Mathieu Olivier

James Malatesta - (Yegor Chinakhov / Alex Nylander) - Carson Meyer

DEFENSEMEN

Zach Werenski / Damon Severson

Jake Bean / Ivan Provorov

Jake Christiansen / Erik Gudbranson

Goalies: Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov

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

IR: Kent Johnson

  • Tyler Angle, who centered the Jackets’ fourth line in Thursday’s loss to the Penguins, was loaned to the AHL Friday to help the Cleveland Monsters with their Calder Cup playoff push. He could be replaced by either Yegor Chinakhov or ex-Pen Alex Nylander, who are both day-to-day with injuries.
  • Although Nylander missed Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury, he’s been thriving in Columbus since he was traded for Emil Bemstrom at the deadline. He has eight goals and 11 points while averaging over 16 minutes per game in 15 games with the Blue Jackets.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

  • Netminder Daniil Tarasov, who has served as the Jackets’ backup this season, took the loss against the Pens Thursday. If starter Elvis Merzlikins takes over the Jackets’ net tonight, he’ll be looking to shake off a brutal stretch of losses after allowing six goals against in three straight starts.

And now for the Pens

Projected lines

FORWARDS

Drew O’Connor - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Michael Bunting - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen

Jesse Puljujarvi - Sam Poulin - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

P.O. Joseph / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

John Ludvig or Ryan Shea / Jack St. Ivany

Goalies: Tristan Jarry or Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential Scratches: Jonathan Gruden, Emil Bemstrom, Ryan Graves (concussion)

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

  • Ryan Graves was diagnosed with a concussion after leaving Thursday’s game early, per Pens Inside Scoop.
  • The Pens called up Ryan Shea from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday, so either he or John Ludvig are likely to slot into the bottom pairing in Graves’ absence.

A one-sided rivalry

Thursday’s win over the Blue Jackets extended a streak of perennially lopsided battles between these two Metropolitan division opponents.

A few notes on the Pens’ love of playing the Jackets, from Pens PR:

  • The Penguins are 11-0-1 against the Blue Jackets during a point streak dating back to December 2019. That’s their longest active point streak against any opponent, and the fifth-longest active point streak against any single team in the NHL.
  • That’s in large part thanks to Crosby and Malkin, who both reported multiple points Thursday. Crosby has a career average of 1.44 points per game against the Jackets, while Malkin has 1.27.